Nickel Mountain Mine - Riddle Rockhounding

• Nickel Mountain Mine tailing is the only site to find garnierite and chrysoprase

Nickel Mountain in Douglas County is the only area in Oregon where garnierite and chrysoprase are produced. Though most land in the area is private property, the tailing pile of a closed nickel mine provides the opportunity to find limited amounts of garnierite and chrysoprase for general public. The site is located at Cow Creek Back County Byway 3 miles southwest of a small city of Riddle.

Garnierite is a green-colored nickel ore mineral embedded within pockets of weathered ultramafic rocks.

Chrysoprase is a variety of chalcedony also containing trace quantities of nickel salts that give minerals apple-green color.

The Nickel Mountain Mine was discovered in 1864 and used to produce nickel ore. Mining operations started in 1882 and continued until 1987. Once the nickel was nearly depleted, the mine was repurposed for extracting slag and at the same time gave rock collectors a chance to get some unique minerals.

The rockhounding spot consists of a big pile of rocks dumped right next to the gate. The mine owners allow collecting minerals along the outer side of the pile that faces the road. In order to extract minerals, you would need a hammer, a gad, and a chisel. Check traces of green color among rusty masses of limonite. Garnierite is more common here while chrysoprase is significantly rarer.

There are no services or camping on the site.

This site is located on Cow Creek Back Country Byway that connects the cities of Glendale, Riddle, Tri-City, and Interstate-5. The scenic route offers a journey through history with numerous spots for swimming, fishing, gold panning, and rockhounding.

Nickel Mountain Mine | General Description

Open: Year-round
Managed: Private mine
Location: Riddle

Rocks & Minerals: Garnierite and chrysoprase
Tools: Rock hammer, gad, and chisel

Services: None

Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any vehicle

Elevation: 700 ft (213 m)

Nickel Mountain Mine is located:

  • 3 miles southwest of Riddle
  • 10 miles west of Canyonville
  • 98 miles south of Eugene.

Adventures Nearby


From I-5,

  • Take exit 103 for Pruner Road toward Riddle
  • Drive 5.3 miles on Pruner Road which becomes Riddle Bypass Road to the destination on the right.

GPS: N 42°55.744' W 123°24.828' | 42.929056, -123.413806

Get Google Maps Directions


  1. Is the Nickel Mountain mine rockhounding site free? Do I need to contact anyone? Is there any fees to access the pile? Is there someone who will meet me there or ask for permission to search to Rockhound?

    1. This is a tailing at the mine entrance. You can collect anything in front of it for free, but do not go through the gate.
      The security can come and you can ask any questions.

  2. No there any more as far as I could tell a few days ago. The guy at the gate said they had gotten rid of all the tailing in the front. Alas.

  3. I went to the site yesterday and there is very little to pick through and access to the mining site is private and denied. I was very disappointed.

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