Your Local Guide to the 7 Best Rock Hunting Beaches in Michigan

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Your Local Guide to the 7 Best Rock Hunting Beaches in Michigan

Everyone loves a good treasure hunt, and hunting for Michigan rocks is one of the best treasure hunts you’ll enjoy!  The shores of Lake Michigan may be known for sand dunes and area beaches, but don’t forget the other four great lakes.  The entire great lakes area is a popular destination for rock hunting.  Sure, you can enjoy the sandy beaches but don’t count out the fantastic rocky shores for rock hunting.  So, strap on your comfy shoes and pack your gear; Let’s go on a treasure hunt!

Kinds of Rocks

If you’re new to rock hunting, you may wonder what all the fuss is about.  But once you find your first unique rock, you’ll know why this hobby is so much fun!

When looking at a sea of rocks, it would be easy to think they’re all the same.  But you would be wrong!  Take yourself all the way back to high school science class, where you may have learned about some of the remarkable rocks we have here on Earth and how they came to be over time.  And let’s talk about some of the fantastic stones you can find in Michigan along our lakeshores.

Petoskey & Charlevoix Stones

Petoskey stones (or Hexagonaria Percarinata) are made of fossilized coral.  Their distinctive pattern makes them super unique!  If you live in Michigan, you probably know what a Petoskey stone looks like because they are Michigan’s state stone.  If you aren’t lucky enough to find a Petoskey Stone on your hunt, don’t worry – most of our gift shops in Michigan have them.  You can even get fabulous jewelry made from them. 

A Charlevoix Stone, the lesser-known cousin of the Petoskey stone, is similar yet has a smaller pattern.  Rockhounds often find these stones together when searching.

Petoskey Stone and Charlevoix Stone on a black backround
Petoskey Stone, left, Charlevoix Stone, right. Photo credit:

Coral Fossils

Petoskey Stones aren’t the only fossilized coral on Michigan’s Great Lakes beaches.  Keep an eye out for other rocks imprinted with unique shapes or patterns.  The Great Lakes Area and area beaches are one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for rock hunters. 

a black background with a pair of hands holding a stone with a series of holes in it - a fossil rock
Honeycomb Coral

Pudding Stones

Pudding Stones are large stones made up of smaller stones all squished together.  They remind me of those old Brach’s Jelly Nougats.  Just like the white base of the jelly candy, the Pudding Stone has a base of white quartzite.  The candy is dotted with brightly colored sweet and chewy bits.  The Pudding Stone is dotted with jasper pebbles, usually brown or reddish.

This article tells a great story about one of the largest Puddingstones found, and guess what!?  It was found in Michigan!

White Brach's nougat candy with colored candy bits.
Brach’s Jelly Nougat – Yum!
Two piles of puddingstones, a white stone with orange bits.
Puddingstone.  Photo credit Robert Abram.

Can you see the similarity between the candy and the rock? Or is it just me? If you have a hankering for one of these Brach’s Jelly Nougats, you can order here.


Agates are one of the most colorful of Michigan’s stones.  This semi-precious stone is found throughout Michigan but most commonly on Lake Superior beaches.  Their unique stripes or banding makes them special, and you’ll find them in a variety of different colors.

a pile of colorful stones some with stripes.
A variety of colors shows in these Agate Stones


Copper is known for its distinctive reddish-brown color.  Copper ore runs in veins through rocks and minerals and has been mined for centuries and used as tools, ornaments, and even currency.

a brownish, rough-looking rock with some teal colored coloring on parts.
Copper has a distinctive brownish color but oxidizes into a lovely teal when exposed to air.
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Sandstone is not the most glamorous of rocks, but never-the-less, it is a reasonably common rock on Michigan beaches and riverbeds.  Centuries pass with tiny sand grains pressed together, resulting in this sedimentary rock.  You will often find Sandstone paving walkways or accenting landscaping because of its smooth and flat surface.

a pile of multi-colored sandstone rocks
Sandstone comes in a variety of shades.

Basalt Rock

You have probably seen Basalt Rock without even knowing its name.  Basalt is the smooth, grayish stones often used to create Cairns, those little stacks of rocks that you may see on your nature walk where someone has left a sign that a human has been there.  Basalt rocks are also the type of rock used in fancy spa treatments involving heated rock massages.

Basalt is not one of the most unique rocks but it is beautiful and has a smooth surface.  Some folks carry a small basalt stone in their pocket to rub their finger across the smooth surface.  Have you heard of a worry-stone?  Basalt is your stone!

Basalt stones in shades of grey stacked into a mini tower
A small Cairn made of basalt stones

Best Rock Hunting Beaches in Michigan

Now that you have an idea of what kind of beautiful rocks you can find as you search, you’ll need a few places to start the hunt. Check outsome of these, some of my favorite park and beaches to hunt rocks!

Pier Cove Park

Tucked away on a small, hidden area on Michigan’s west coast is Pier Cove Park.  One day when my husband, son, and I wandered our local roads, we stumbled across this lovely little beach off the beaten path.  There is limited parking, and private property sandwiches this little beach on both sides, but the treasures you may find make this worth a stop.

When we visited, we found a group of people scouting the beach with strange blue lights.  As Dan and Tucker skipped rocks across the water, my curiosity got the best of me, so I finally asked one of the hunters (also known as rock hounds) what they were up to.  They were searching for Yooperlites (lightning stones), a special rock that glows under ultraviolet light.  Read more about these rocks here

Pier Cove Park has many remarkable rocks, and you’ll be lucky if you find a Yooperlite, but bring your U.V. light just in case!

Petoskey State Park

You can find Petoskey State Park on Lake Michigan’s Northwest shore.  As its name implies, Petsokey State Park Beach is one of the best places to search and find Petoskey Stones.  This State Park beach has a good-sized parking area and a beach house, including concessions and bathrooms, so you can enjoy plenty of time searching for the perfect rock!  Bonus!  Take a tour through the city of Petoskey while you’re in the area.  In my personal opinion, this little town is one of the most picturesque towns along the shorelines of Lake Michigan.

Whitefish Point

You’ll find Paradise, located way up Northern Michigan in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  And at the tip of Paradise is Whitefish Point.  The rocks are colorful, plentiful, and impressive.  While you’re there rock-hunting, take a side trip to see the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the Whitefish Point Lighthouse.  Michigan’s U.P. is stunningly beautiful, not just because of the rocks!

Magoon Creek Natural Area

Magoon Creek Natural Area is on the Northwest side of Michigan along Lake Michigan.  This 97-acre park is a quiet gem, not heavily trafficked by tourists.  Parking is free, and you’ll find picnic tables on a lightly wooded overlook for a break in the middle of your rock-hunting adventure.

Kids will love the hand pump available for water and the clay area at the back of the beach.  Visitors report finding Petoskey Stones, Beach Glass, and Agate, among other treasures, on this sweet beach area.

Pink background with "Hip Grandma Merch" available on front

Fisherman’s Island State Park and Beach

Charlevoix sits near the top of Michigan’s lower peninsula.  In Charlevoix, you will find Fisherman’s Island State Park and Beach.  Another beach in the Northern part of the state means another opportunity to find a Petoskey stone.  This beach is known for being quiet and lovely.  If you visit after a storm, you will be even more likely to fill your bucket with rock treasures!

Keweenaw Peninsula and Copper Mines

A trip to the UP must include an exploration of the Keweenaw Peninsula, where you can search along the rocky shoreline in several areas for Michigan Rock treasures.  If you are looking for copper, check out the Cliff Mine.  The Cliff Mine allows visitors to dig through the mine tailings piles.  Another option is the Central Mine, which allows treasure hunting when the gates are closed, and no trucks are present.

Enjoy this little history lesson if you’re wondering about digging through mine tailings.  In the mid-1800s, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula became America’s largest producer of copper.  Over 100 mines and sites operated between 1847 and the early 1900s.  During that time, over six billion pounds of copper was mined, making this area of the Upper Peninsula America’s largest producer of copper.  A stop at one of these Copper mines is a unique way to explore Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Negwegon State Park

Negwegon State Park is on the East side of Michigan along Lake Huron.  Rock hunters have reported finding Puddingstone, Petoskey Stones, and several other interesting specimens.  The area is perfect for catching a sunrise over the lake if you are a morning person!

Rock Hunting Tips

Before starting your rock-hunting adventure, you’ll want to consider a few things.  So here are some of my best tips for rock hunting:

  • Bring a collapsible bucket or a bag to carry your rocks in.
  • Pack a small spray bottle for water.  Rocks look very different when wet, and you may not always be right next to the water!
  • Wear comfortable and appropriate shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.
  • Bring a magnifying glass or magnifying glasses to help you identify rocks.
  • Bring a small uv light to spot those Yooperlites!
  • Be patient and persistent.  It may take some time to find the perfect rock.
  • Be warned: There is a 25-pound weight limit to how many rocks you can take from a Michigan state park in a year.
  • Federal Law prohibits collecting rocks in all National Parks.
  • Be a responsible rock hunter.  Leave no trash and fill any large holes you may dig while hunting.

Wrapping it All Up

If you haven’t tried rock hunting, be prepared!  You might quickly get addicted to the hunt!  Rock hunting in Michigan is a popular activity for people of all ages and is the perfect way to take in a sunrise or sunset and stay active.  You can even rock hunt from a kayak to get onto the water!  Michigan has so many varieties of stones, rocks, and minerals just waiting to be found, all surrounded by the natural beauty of Michigan.

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PIN image for Best Rock Hunting Beaches in Michigan with 4 rock images and the title on a green and yellow background.

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