Rock & Mineral Collecting – Southern Oregon

Umpqua River
Umpqua River




Southern Oregon has plenty of opportunities for recreational rock and mineral collecting. The ledges, river and lake gravels produce a wide variety of minerals including gem-quality specimens. Due to most of the sites mentioned below are located along the river and creek banks, the best rockhounding time is during the summer and early fall months when the water level is low and more materials are exposed. Before accessing the collecting area, contact pertinent agencies the most up-to-date information and regulations.

Illinois River

Rocks & Minerals: Agate, Jasper, Josephinite
Tools: Rock hammers, picks
County: Josephine
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Maintained
GPS: 42.2476, -123.6926

From Grant Pass, travel onto US 199 south for about 23 miles to 8 Dollar Road/NF 4201. Turn right and drive about 2.8 miles to the bridge, past the bridge and go 0.2 miles to the parking area.

The Illinois River is the area where the rare mineral Josephinite, named after Josephine County, is found. Josephinite is also known as Awaruite, a composition of nickel and iron. Also, look for agates and jaspers.



Althouse Creek

Rocks & Minerals: Rhodonite, Serpentine, Oregon Jade, and Jasper
Tools: Rock hammers, picks
County: Josephine
Managed: BLM
Road Access: Maintained
GPS: 42.112, -123.5293

From Cave Junction, take OR 46 east and drive 1.8 miles to Holland Loop Road, turn right and continue 5.3 miles to Althouse Road, turn right and then turn left to stay on Althouse Road, turn left onto Althouse Creek Road.  Turn right onto Browntown Road/Forest Service Road 4703.

This place is known for rhodonite - a pink to brownish manganese inosilicate that can be cut and polished. Also, Oregon Jade, red jasper, serpentine, and gold can be found along Althouse Creek. The best time for rockhounding is summer and fall when the water level is low. There are some private and public lands along the creek's bank. Be careful not to trespass.

Oregon Rockhounding Map

Oregon Rockhounding Map




Agate Lake

Rocks & Minerals: Agate, Jasper, Chalcedony, and Petrified Wood
Tools: Picks
County: Jackson
Managed: County Park
Road Access: Maintained
GPS: 42.4111, -122.7755

From Medford, take OR 62 east for 6 miles and then OR 140 east for 3.6 miles. Turn right onto E Antelope Road, then turn right onto Agate Dam Access Road, and then left.

The rivers, creeks, and washes of the region that surrounds Central Point, White City, and Eagle Point produce an abundance of great specimens including moss and dendritic agate, jaspers, and petrified wood.

The best time to visit Agate Lake is when a water level is low - a summer to early fall.




Emigrant Lake - Ashland

Rocks & Minerals: Agate, Jasper
Tools: Picks
County: Jackson
Managed: County Park
Road Access: Maintained
GPS: 42.149, -122.616

Visit Emigrant Lake during low water levels in summer or fall, when more gravel is exposed.

North Fork and South Fork of the Umpqua River

Rocks & Minerals: Agate, jasper, quartz, carnelian, petrified wood
County: Douglas
Managed: BLM and USDA
Road Access: Maintained
Locations & GPS: North Fork Umpqua River - Swiftwater Park (43.333, -123.005);  South Fork Umpqua River - Myrtle Creek (43.025, -123.296), Bridge at Days Creek (42.973, -123.1724), Bridge at Tiller Trail Highway (42.939, -123.1089), Three C Rock Campground (42.9645, -122.8869).

Minerals may be found on the river gravels bed along the banks of the North and South Forks of the Umpqua River. There are small pullouts at North Fork Umpqua River along Highway OR 138 from the town of Glide, but a river access can be steep and slippery. Easy accessible is, located 4 miles east of Glide, Swiftwater Park, managed by BLM.

For the South Fork of the Umpqua River, take Tiller Trail Highway, running east of Canyonville.  Find pullouts with the riverbank access. Check the river gravel beds near I-5 under the bridge in the town of Myrtle Creek.