Rock hounding 101 in Oregon!  Formerly known as the Rockhound's Guide to collecting/beachcombing Oregon Coast Agate. Pacific Coast Highway 101 runs north and south along the Pacific coastline from southern California, Oregon and Washington.  In Oregon the coastline is just more accessible as the beaches are public beaches, California mostly private and Washington not as easy to access.  So here we will utilize the Oregon locations yet the pocket guide will identify most anything to be found on the pacific coastline.  The Pocket guide AGATES OF THE OREGON COAST includes superb photos and illustrations, to support the detailed text, includes additional resources and a map for guidance on getting started.  During the winter, you will want to visit the Oregon Coast to go beachcombing or rockhounding in search of agates, fossils, glass floats and other treasures from the sea.

Rock hounding 101...
Collecting Oregon Coast Agates and
15-20 million year old fossil mollusks

Agates can be collected in many areas along the coast, but the areas around Newport are some of the finest agate hunting areas in the world. Each year the supply of stone is uncovered by the tides. However 1998 - 2000 were the best collecting years of probably the last 25 years. This year we look forward to more of a normal cycle for collecting where we still have the ability to find nice pieces of agate from small 1" pieces to ones that may weigh 1-3 or even an occasional trophy of 5 pounds and the best thing about beachcombing, it requires no special tools and it's free!

Beachcombing safety tips: can add to your enjoyment of this activity by preventing accidents and injury. Activities here on the coast are often governed by tidal influences. Always be cautious when near the surf. Those beautiful waves can be dangerous as sudden wave surges or "sneaker waves". With these strong outward currents, wash up on the shore with enough impact to knock an adult down and drag them out to sea.

Do not turn your back on the ocean and never play on the driftwood logs. These logs become buoyant and can be moved around in as little as just on inch of water which can float and roll a log over an unaware person causing injury or death. While beachcombing, avoid approaching large rocks, islands or reefs, which could contain wildlife. Please remember to leave all living animals and plants as you found them, as you are visiting THEIR home. To avoid accidents or disturbing wildlife, use binoculars to bring them closer to you!

Watch the tides: every 24 hours and 50 minutes the tide rises and falls twice. The incoming tides are the most dangerous to unwary explorers. Therefore beachcombing requires knowledge of tidal ebb and flow. Variations to predicted tides could be caused by changing weather patterns, currents, wind, and wave size. Therefore, it is prudent to use caution around the ocean. For complete tidal predictions and exact times, check the Hatfield Marine Science Center tide chart. The mild winters of the coast with its clean invigorating air all in such a beautiful setting allow one to hunt at all times of the year with comfort. However, Oregon coast weather is just as unpredictable as the tides. That goes for all seasons.

Making your visit more enjoyable...Dress in layers, taking along a warm all weather jacket, preferably one with a hood to protect your head and ears from the cold winds or rain which we often experience here on the coast and remember to wear old shoes with non-slip soles or rubber boots for additional comfort.

The Pacific Ocean generously renews the agate supply every year during the winter and early spring when the storms are the hardiest and the tides uncover great beds of gravel at this time of year. This brings the lighter weight stones characteristic of gem material to the top. Remember these agate-bearing beaches often change their surface features, depending on storms and high tides, possibly within just one tides cycle of 6 hours.

Sample photo showing an assortment of rough agates and jaspers as found on the beaches at Newport - Click here to see our smiling polished faces.The agate hunter should look for loose gravel on top of the sand. Much of the agate and jasper (< - - as shown) found on Oregon Beaches will have been worn down until it is rounded into smooth beach pebbles or cobbles. If you look closely at a dry piece of this rock, you may see that it is covered with little crescent-shaped indications as though someone had pressed their fingernail into it. Most agates are translucent and when held to the sun or other strong light, the formations inside can be seen. It is best to hunt on an out-going tide for it is then that the gravel has been freshly agitated and the stones are most plentiful. Walk into the sun so that you can better see the agates sparkle. It is always easier to see the agate or jasper when the stones are wet, so start hunting from where the water has recently receded. Keep in mind that because agate is very hard, agate will remain wet and shinier longer than the porous rock, basalt or sandstone pebbles have dried.

Rare finds are agates with water and a moveable bubble of air inside called an enhydro and agates that appear to have fine hair-like needles inside called sagenite. Jasper is an opaque quartz containing oxide of iron, clay, and many other impurities and is found in various colors, such as red, butterscotch, brown, green or any combination there of. Bloodstone is dark-green jasper with small, blood red blotches. These treasures of agate, jasper, and petrified wood are especially beautiful when polished. A rock tumbler will polish them into beautiful gems that can be made into lovely jewelry.

Sample Photo of local petrified wood found on the beach at NewportAlso, be on the lookout for petrified wood (<- - as shown), fossil clam, and snail shells plus fossilized whale and dolphin bone. They may be seen embedded in a cliff face, (however, do not attempt to remove them from the headlands, as wind and water will erode away the soil). Look among the cobbles washed against the base of the cliffs by the tides. Seldom do you ever see the complete fossil visible. Therefore look for interesting contours and shapes. A permit is required for any digging beyond a modest 3" x 6" deep hole. Any fragile vertebrate fossils are to be left untouched and reported to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport at South Beach. Sample Photo of a fossil nautlius found on the beach winter 2001 on a field trip with Oregon's Fossil Guy, fossil was cut open by the gemologist of FACETS Gem & Mineral Gallery to expose the nautliusSmall fossils may not be easy to recognize, and they may be taken to the Hatfield Marine Science Center for identification.

A specific list of all the collecting beaches in Oregon would be too lengthy to include here. Visit FACETS Gem & Mineral Gallery for field guides or further information of agate and fossil collecting on Oregon's Central Coast.

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Amazing finds from Newport's beaches may include:

Sample photo of some spectacular rough  agates as found on the beach winter 1998-2000
Some spectacular fancy agates

Sample Photo of Newport black agates as found on the beach winter 1998-2000
Black agates

Sample photo of rough sagenite agates as found on the beach winter 1998-2000
Sagenite agates

Sample photo of rough & polished RARE Newport blue agates as found on the beach over many years of collecting!  Rough they kind of resemble that distinctive color of wedgwood blue willow porcelain.
RARE Baby Blue Agates

Sample photo of rough and polished very RARE Newport pink agates as found on the beach over many years of collecting!
Very RARE Pink Agates

© 1999-2011 Myers Design Labs, of Newport, All Rights Reserved.
NOTE: Courtesy Photos © FACETS of Newport. 1999 - 2011.
A Newport resident since the 80's, this avid traveler and rockhound, K. Myers enjoys sharing some of the many treasures of the coast.
Oregon agates blog of Agates of the Oregon Coast    |   Tide Tables    |    FACETS Gem & Mineral Gallery    |    Points of Interest | Current Weather Conditions

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Newport, Heart of the Central Oregon Coast - Check Out Some of These Other Visitor Attractions

• Two Historic Light Houses: The Yaquina Bay State Park lighthouse (which some claim is haunted) is located just north west of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, overlooking the mouth of the Yaquina bay and the jetty. The second lighthouse is at the North end of Newport at Yaquina Head.

Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center: The newly renovated public wing, showcases interactive exhibits and aquaria featuring current topics in marine research. Located in South Beach, guided nature walks are offered daily!

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area : 100-acre federal recreation site offers excellent viewpoints for whale watching and the seabird nesting area just off shore. With a new state-of-the-art interpretive center, lighthouse tours, and a wheelchair accessible tide pool (the best to time to explore is an hour before low tide). Site is open dawn to dusk year round. Interpretative center opens at 10 am daily.
Phone: (541) 574-3100 Located at: 750 Lighthouse, Dr., Newport

Anchor Pier- Home of Marine Discovery Tours: Oregon's #1 Wildlife cruise, for Whale watching, and Eco-tours give you a combination route of the Ocean, bay & River includes Scenery and Sea Life search!

Oregon Coast History Center: Preserving the history of Oregon's Central Coast, consists of 2 museums, the Log Cabin Museum and the Burrows House.

Newport Net: Your key to the many useful links for Newport: The Chamber of Commerce, shopping, fishing charters, lodging, Newport Public Library etc.

Mariner Square: Three attractions located on the Bayfront: Undersea Gardens, Ripley's Believe it or Not, and the Wax Works.

Oregon Coast Aquarium: Rated as one of the top ten aquariums in the nation, with North America's largest walk through sea bird aviary. This is the former rehab home of Keiko (the star of Free Willy).

Newport Performing Arts Center: Enjoy memorable music, theater and dance, or the Visual Arts Center. Both are located in the Nye Beach area..

Agate Beach Golf Course And Pro Shop.

Fly to Newport: Airport services and connecting flights to Portland.

Other Nearby Attractions:

Chinook Winds Casino : Lincoln City (25 miles north).

Sea Lion Caves: 38 miles south in Florence. The only natural home left on the mainland to golden Stellar Sea Lions.

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