Agate Beaches in Oregon: Rockhound with Kids

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Rockhounding Riches

The Oregon Coast is the place for agate hunting. The forces of nature that formed Oregon’s rugged coastline also make it a perfect region to beachcomb and rockhound. In this post we’ll share the best agate beaches in Oregon. We’ll also provide you some tips for making the most of rockhounding with your kids.

A beautiful view of the Oregon Coast as seen from the giant dune of Cape Kiwanda.

Agate hunting is great fun for families. The adventure and activity helps children’s mental and emotional health by getting them off of their screens and into nature. Rock hunting excursions provide an excitement and variety that especially appeals to children who have ADHD.

Me celebrating with my daughter. She hold a keychain decorated with a sodalite stone that she had polished using her rock tumbler.
Rockhounding and Lapidary offer great ways to bond with your children.

The Pacific Northwest is the ideal family rockhounding area. Families can put together a perfect getaway as long as they are willing to put in some planning and preparation.

Oregon’s coastline is publicly owned and accessible, and this makes for easy and enjoyable rockhounding. Coastal cities and ocean resorts bring a comfort and convenience that can’t be had on typical rockhounding adventures. You can spend the day searching for treasures, and end the day in the hot tub!

A beautiful spring day at Beverly Beach State Park. Beverly Beach is one of the 5 best agate beaches in Oregon.
Incredible beauty at Beverly Beach

Here’s how to make the most of agate beaches in Oregon.

Getting Started: Tips and Tricks

Rockhounding is an outdoor activity akin to hiking or fishing. You’ll have a much better experience if you plan ahead and come prepared!

Get Informed

You won’t find much if you don’t know where to look. Up-to-date field guides provide relevant information on where to go and what to know in a given area. 

My daughter reads a book about gemstones of the world. Good information leads to success in rockhounding.

A good field guide provides all of the information relevant to a site. This includes:

  • rocks to be found
  • the lay the land
  • tools you’ll need
  • how accessible the site is
  • if the site is on private or public property

Field Guides take the worry and hassle out of rockhounding so you can truly enjoy the experience and engage with your children.

We depend on Rockhounding Oregon by Lars W. Johnson. This Falcon Guide Field Guide gives us all the essentials as well as information on nearby accommodations and attractions. The large color photographs are especially helpful in identifying sites and the riches they hold. The five sites described in this post come right out of this book’s list of 98 rockhounding sites.

My daughters stand next to a sphere polisher at a rock and gem show. Rock and gem clubs are great places to learn how to rockhound well.
A local rock & gem club is a great place to get informed about rockhounding.

Get Equipped

You don’t need much equipment to go agate hunting on the Oregon coast. It’s a good idea to take a shovel, geology pick, and safety goggles on any rockhounding expedition. However, none of these are absolutely necessary on the coast.

My children and I prepare gemstones to go into another phase of tumbling. Rockhounding and lapidary requires some equipment like rock tumblers.
You’ll need some equipment to find and polish gemstones.

Agate beaches in Oregon consist of creeks and river ways that empty into the Pacific Ocean. Creeks and rivers erode volcanic rocks located in Oregon’s coastal mountains, exposing semiprecious stones and tumbling them gradually to the sea. This process results in the agates and other gemstones that are found in rocks beds and beaches along the Oregon Coast. No shovel or pick is necessary because erosion has already done the work for you!

Elk Creek flows through Oregon's coastal range. Oregon agates are cut out of the coastal range by rivers and creeks like Elk Creek.
Oregon’s beach agates come from her coastal mountain range.

Get Wet?

What you will need is warm, water resistant clothing. Winter and early spring are the best time of year for agate hunting. Strong winter storms clear sand out of Oregon beaches and expose rock beds for agate hunters.

Big storms wash fresh stones from the coastal mountains and churn up stones that were once buried under summer sands. Finally, wet conditions make for wet rocks, and wet rocks are easier to spot and examine.

My children and I walk a trail to get to Moolack Beach. Moolack Beach is one of the best agate beaches in Oregon.
A sudden downpour soaked our cotton clothes, ending this rockhounding expedition.

Do you cringe at the thought an off-season trip to the Oregon Coast? You may be in for a surprise. Oregon has a majestic beauty in winter’s misty months, and is rich with wildflowers in the Spring months. Summer crowds are gone and travel discounts aren’t hard to come by during the off-season.

The weather is not tropical but it is generally mild in this quiet and wild part of the country. All of this makes coastal Oregon a great destination during the spring and winter months.

A winter sunrise show the majestic beauty of the Southern Oregon coastline.
Winter beauty on the Southern Oregon Coast. Image from Rick Obst.

That said, you’re going to want to have the right getup. Cotton clothing and tennis shoes aren’t going to cut it. Instead, look into polysynthetic clothing made by brands such as Columbia or North Face.

A good pair of galoshes or mud boots are critical for keeping you warm and steady in those cold Oregon beaches and gravel beds. 

I'm stuck on the shore of a creek because I don't have a good pair of boots to use. Tennis shoes offers only two option wet feet and rocks or dry feet and no rocks.
Rookie mistake! No boots will keep you stuck on the shore, especially in winter!

Safety First

Oregon beaches can be dangerous and even deadly if you’re not careful. 

@dinkumtribe Dangers to watch fir on the Oregon Coast: sneaker waves and tsunami warnings. #adhdfamilytravel#familytravelcreator#familytraveltiktoker#oregonfamily#pnwfamily #pnwfamilies#oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog#familytravelblog#familytravelblogger#familytravelvlogger#familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids #oregoncoastcheck #oregoncoastlife #oregoncoastline #sneakerwaves #sneakerwave #oregonbeach #oregonbeaches #oregonbeachcheck #oregontravel #oregontravelideas #oregontravels ♬ original sound – dinkumtribe

The rocky coastline is known for dangerous sneaker waves. Sneaker waves are extra large waves that can appear without much warning or notice. Don’t turn your back on the ocean or leave your children unattended. 

You’ll also want to keep an eye on the tide if you’re working in a secluded cove. Coves that are accessible at low tide may become inaccessible at high tide, leaving careless beachgoers stranded. Be sure that you have plenty of space (in square feet and time) before settling into a cove.

The entrance to Beverly Beach includes several steep stairways.

Finally, much of Oregon’s coastline is made up of tall headlands and steep cliff faces. Carelessness can result in tragic falls. Children should always be accompanied by an adult when visiting an Oregon beach.

How to Hunt for Agates

Do you want the best pickings of agate beaches in Oregon? Then visit a site at low tide after a storm has passed through. Look over the creek or river bed and the surrounding beach area, keeping an eye out for vibrant colors. 

A creek flows into the ocean at Beverly Beach.
Oregon agates are usually found where creeks and rivers flow into the ocean.

Mindset matters when it comes to rockhounding. Like fishing, you may come back with heaps or you may come back with only memories. First-time agate hunters are sometimes surprised not only at how long it takes but also what they find. Natural agates look different than the polished, cut specimens sold at the store.

My children and I look for agates in the rock beds of Moolack Creek. Moolack Creek is one of the agate beaches in Oregon.
Agate hunting at Moolack Creek in April.

Every adventure provides opportunities for connection and life lessons. Be prepared to model abundance thinking to your kids. Oregon beaches yield all kinds of treasures including sand dollars, sea glass, and pieces of driftwoods. Chances are that your children will find something fun even on those days when there aren’t any gemstones to be found.

My son holds an unbroken sand dollar that he found at Cannon Beach. You can find all kinds of riches on Oregon beaches.
A sand dollar and a bowl of Mo’s chowder makes for a great day at the beach.

5 Great Agate Beaches in Oregon

Now that you know the how-tos of agate hunting, it’s time to talk about where to go. All five of these agate beaches in Oregon come from Rockhounding Oregon by Lars W. Johnson.

North Oregon Coast

A shipwreck decorates one of Oregon's northern beaches.

Northern Oregon stretches from historic Astoria down to beautiful Neskowin. This incredible coastline includes breathtaking ocean views and beautiful beaches. Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Pacific City all provide great places to stay and play in this remarkable area.

Short Beach

The north Oregon coast has only one agate beach, but it couldn’t be better located. Short Beach is found immediately south of Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge, one of the best refuge sites on the Oregon Coast. 

Two beautiful sea stacks stand amid ocean waves at Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge. Cape Meares NWR is right next to Short Beach. Short Beach is one of the best agate beaches in Oregon.
Fantastic ocean views at Cape Meares NWR, right next to Short Beach.

Short Beach is also less than half an hour from Tillamook, the home of the Tillamook Creamery and the Tillamook Air Museum.

You can find a wide range of semiprecious stones at Short Beach including agate, jasper, chalcedony, and petrified wood. Simply walk around the beach looking for stones that stand out from the gray gravel. 

Agates and other minerals can also be found in the basalt boulders of Short Beach. Agates, zeolites, and even geodes can be obtained by breaking open these boulders with a rock hammer or geology pick. Basalt is a tough rock, so be prepared to work.

Central Oregon Coast

Yaquina Head Lighthouse stands tall amid the wildflowers of Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse stands sentry along Oregon’s Central Coast.

The central Oregon coast is one of Oregon’s most popular areas. From whale watching at Depoe Bay to dune riding the Oregon Dunes, there’s something for everyone along this stretch of coast. 

Lincoln City

My son and I enjoy a walk on a Lincoln City beach on a beautiful August day.
Rockhounding is one more reason to take a walk on the beach in Lincoln City.

Lincoln City has its own kind of beach treasure. If you’re lucky you might stumble upon some art glass.

The city sponsors the creation and release of art glass floats into its coastal waters. Beachgoers who find the floats are welcome to keep them. The art floats project celebrates an old-time custom of collecting Japaneses glass floats as they washed up on the beach. 

Moolack Beach & Beverly State Park

Moolack Beach is another agate beach with a fantastic location. The beach is just south of Beverly Beach and Beverly State Park, one of Oregon’s most picturesque beaches. It’s also close to prime Newport attractions including the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the superb Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.

A sandy boulder holds a dozen or more marine fossils. You can find marine fossils and more at agate beaches in Oregon.
A concretion of marine fossils at Beverly Beach.

Agate, jasper, petrified wood, and fossils can all be found along the Moolack creek and the surrounding beach area. Time your arrival after high tide, so you can comb through the beach as the tide heads out. 

My children play by a water fall at a beautiful beach near Otter Rock, Oregon.
The small community of Otter Rock is our favorite spot on the Oregon Coast. Otter Rock can be found just north of Beverly Beach.

Cummings Creek & Neptune State Park

Cummings Creek requires some hiking and is not as accessible as other agate beaches. However, the natural beauty and rich finds are well worth the effort that you will put out. Agate, jasper, petrified wood, and marine fossils can be found among the many gravel beds that make up Cummings Creek and this beautiful beach. 

Big Creek & Roosevelt Beach

You can find agate, jasper, petrified wood, and more at this ocean beach. Big Creek’s gravel bars often hold semiprecious stones, and some of these wash up onto Roosevelt Beach. Marine fossils and zeolites are also found at this site. 

Southern Oregon Coast

Oregon’s south coast is the ideal place for agate hunting. For one, this region holds more agate beaches than the rest of the Oregon coast. Oregon’s southern beaches are treasured for their remote and wild beauty. They are also known for having warmer temperatures than the rest of the state coastline. 

@dinkumtribe FAQs about Oregon: Can you swim on the Oregon Coast? #pnwfamily #oregonfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonmoms #familytravelblogger #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #familytravelblog #familytravelinfluencer #familytravelvlog #oregoncoastcheck #oregoncoastlife #southernoregoncoast #oregoncoast #oregoncoastweather #oregontravelideas #oregontravels #oregontraveltips #oregontravel #itssocoldouthere #oregonbeachtrip #oregonbeachcheck #oregonbeaches ♬ original sound – dinkumtribe

Bullards Beach

A lighthouse overlooks a bay at Bullards Beach State Park.
Bullards Beach State Park. Image from Rick Obst.

Bullards Beach is located in Bullards Beach State Park. The site supplies rockhounds with agate and quartz, but is best known for its petrified wood and jasper. Gravel beds of the Coquille River yield large quantities of good-quality petrified wood. You can also find jasper in a wide range of colors.

Treasure to be Found

My wife and children smile in front of an enormous rock formation. We were ending a fun day of rock hunting in Eastern Oregon.
Family fun on another rock expedition in Eastern Oregon.

Agate hunting holds a lot of promise for families. Rockhounding is a real-life treasure hunt that ignites children’s imagination and curiosity, while getting them outdoors and into the dirt. The activity is low-cost and low-commitment, making it easy to fit into a family roadtrip. We wish you the best on your next agate adventure. Happy traveling!

© Copyright Brian A. Warren 2022

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About the author

Brian Warren is an online marketing specialist and cofounder of Dinkum Tribe, a website dedicated to healthy, happy families. Feel to send Brian a message at dinkumtribe@icloud.com.

Comments

    1. Field guides are amazing, especially if you’re homeschooling – our kids love to just flip through them.

  1. I have never been to this part of the US, but it would be great to visit it with children one day. I would love to hike there.

  2. I love how your adventures are enriching your child’s life, shaping their perspectives and learning so much more than what you would ever find in a classroom. Those are moments and memories they will treasure forever, along with the collection they find at Agate Beaches in Oregon!

  3. What an awesome activity for families! It’s so great to get outside and explore and I especially love that it’s low cost. I’ve never been to Oregon, but I’d definitely love to visit one day!

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