Hunting for agates on the North ShoreI want to take my kids hunting for some Lake Superior agates. I know they are in numerous locations, but I'm wondering if anyone has particular spots on the North Shore where not many people go and they can be pretty easily found by children. - Molly, Big Lake, Minn.
I wish I could tell you about a great spot on the North Shore where agates are easily found but not many people go.
But the fact is that the best agates are found in inland gravel pits and around road construction; see How to find an agate. North Shore beaches are picked over, especially by mid-summer. The best time to look is in the spring, when there's a fresh crop thrown onto beaches by winter storms. One of the best places is the mouth of the Beaver River, just east of Beaver Bay; see Beaches of the North Shore.
There still are plenty of small agates, and in my experience, kids love cool rocks of any kind. Of course, so many people have plundered North Shore beaches — some of them carting away tons of rocks to landscape their homes! — that there aren't nearly as many as there should be. So please don't take more than a couple of rocks home, if any; leave the neat stuff where other people can enjoy them, too.
The best time to take kids agate-hunting is the third Saturday in July, when the Carlton County Gem and Mineral Club puts on its annual Agate Stampede on the main street of Moose Lake, Minn., just south of Duluth. Kids get the first crack at 350 pounds of agates and $300 in quarters. For more, see Agate stampede.