The one-mile stretch of the Pistol River in Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint offers great rockhounding opportunities just off Highway 101, 10 miles south of Gold Beach. One of the most popular rock collecting locations is the large gravel bar in a short distance from the parking area north of the bridge at milepost 339.
The river gravels contain materials that wash down from its tributaries in the Coast Range including quartz, agate, jasper, and petrified wood. Rarely nephrite jade can be obtained.
Big chunks of white quartz, red brecciated, or green jasper are in abundance here year-round. The agate ranges from small to larger clear pieces with some banding, sometimes carnelian is found. Check the gravels along the river banks and in the water during low tides.
Though the park at the Pistol River is set in the dunes, interesting rocks and minerals can be collected along the coastal shoreline.
You may travel upstream the river to find more productive areas. Drive south on Highway 101 to Frontage Road, then Pistol River Loop and finally turn right onto North Bank Pistol River Road. Head up North Bank Pistol River Road along the river toward Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest and look for any gravel deposits along the Pistol River and small streams where there are no fences and “No Trespassing” signs.
Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint is also popular for a variety of recreation opportunities including windsurfing, beachcombing, and wildlife watching.
Pistol River | General Description
Open: Year-round from sunrise to sunset
Managed: Oregon State Park
Location: Southern Oregon Coast
Rocks & Minerals: White quartz, jasper, agate, petrified wood, jade
Tools: Gem scoop, collecting bag
Accommodations: Lodging in Gold Beach or Brookings
Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any vehicle
Popularity: Low to moderate
Pistol River Bridge is located:
- 10 miles south of Gold Beach
- 145 miles west of Medford
- 200 miles southwest of Eugene.