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Rock hunting in Northern Michigan is some of the best in the world. Learn the top spots to find four incredible stones along with some tips on how to spend your time before or after rock hunting. Dive in to start finding Leland’s blue stones, Yooperlites, Charlevoix stones and Puddingstones in Northern Michigan.

Don’t forget to download our Ultimate Northern Michigan Rock Hunting Guide to take on your adventure.

Leland Blue Hunting in Leland

This stone, prized among rock hunters and jewelry makers, originated as industrial slag but washes up on Leland area beaches in the form of a shiny, glassy stone tinted purple or blue. Cris Telgard, who sells you’re-going-to-want-a-piece jewelry crafted from the stones at his Leland store, Tampico, will happily help you identify your finds. He also advises hunting on a calm morning after a big wind, an hour or so after sunrise when there’s just enough sun to illuminate the shoreline. Another tip: look for bubbles that show up as round holes and dark rusty spots where some iron remains in the slag.

Where to Find Leland Blue Stones: North Beach (off North Street) and Van’s Beach (off Cedar Street).
After Leland Blue Hunting: Take a sandwich on pretzel bread from the Village Cheese Shanty on your hike up Whaleback Natural Area and enjoy a picnic and panoramic Lake Michigan view.

Van's Beach in Leland, Michigan.

Rock hunting on Van’s Beach in Leland, Michigan.

How to Hunt for Charlevoix Stones in Charlevoix

This cousin of the state stone, the Petoskey, is a great one for beginners. More abundant than the Petoskey, the Charlevoix stone also is made up of 350-million-year-old skeletons of once-living coral polyps. Recognize them by a coral pattern that resembles a “mini” Petoskey, though the “rays” don’t always attach to a center point.

Where to Hunt Charlevoix Stones: Michigan Beach at the end of the Pine River Channel.
After Charlevoix Stone Hunting: Head for breakfast (hunting’s best in morning sun) at Smoke on the Water on Park Avenue for made-from-scratch sour cream pancakes. Ready to wear a stone or display a polished one? Head to The Lake House on Bridge Street for Michigan rock finds.

How to Hunt for Yooperlites on Keweenaw Penninsula

There are few outings more memorable (or perilous if you’re not careful) than hunting along Lake Superior’s dramatic shoreline in the pitch dark with a blacklight flashlight. Finding Yooperlites, a stone discovered in 2017, requires ultraviolet light to distinguish the stone’s signature gold-green glow.

Where to Hunt for Yooperlites: Anywhere on the Keweenaw Peninsula, such as public beaches in Eagle River and Eagle Harbor.
Before Yooperlite Hunting: Fuel up on glazed donuts topped with another rare Keweenaw gem—wild thimbleberry frosting. Find these at Jamsen’s Fish Market and Bakery in Copper Harbor en route to the top of Brockway Mountain Drive, arguably the state’s best pinnacle view. Want both a Yooperlite sample and a memorable experience? Prospector’s Paradise in Allouez has stones and gems from around the world, houses a museum of ancient copper and a mysterious vortex, too.

Puddingstone Hunting on Drummond Island

Drummond Island is find-central for this white stone dotted with what resembles colorful confetti. The stone contains rounded pebbles of red jasper, black chert and white quartzite “cemented together” by quartz.

Where to Hunt Puddingstones: Paddlers often spot them on a massive scale in the water along the Lake Huron shoreline, but they’re also found on the island’s rocky beaches, too.
After Puddingstone Hunting: Celebrate at Esther’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine, where the Mexico City-born owner is famous for her chile relleno and chalupas made of fresh corn masa. You won’t leave empty-handed if you include a visit to the Puddingstone Rock Shop at the island’s North Haven Gifts.

Want more rock-hunting tips, guides, how-to's and more? We've got it!

Find this article and more in the June 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.

Photo(s) by Lucy Hunter