Backcountry Rockhounding on the Tillamook Coast

Visitors often associate the Tillamook Coast with, well, the coast. And if you know what to look for, it can be pretty fruitful in your rock hunt.

From the basalts that make up the bedrock, to the silicates forming from compressed muds, and the seasonal washouts, Tillamook’s coast is exposed with semi-precious-gemstones.

Some notable types of good stone found around the Tillamook Coast varies from beautifully varied jasper with a tapestry of color, milky white agates with orbs and rings, petrified wood, fossils, augite, carnelian, Oregon jade, bloodstone, quartz and even the occasional amethyst crystal.

Rock Hammer

A standard rock hammer.

To go rockhounding you’ll need: a rock hammer, five gallon bucket, shovel, towel and a map. Of course, you may want to pack food and water provisions as these kinds of adventures have a tendency to take a good portion of the day in the mountains. Specific location is entirely up to you, just make sure to follow any rules regarding private property boundary.

During the wetter times of year, the rains cause mudslides and they often unearth good quality stones that are otherwise encased underground. The stones wash downstream and end up in the local rivers. Good quartz crystal, clear Agate and Jasper can commonly be found along the Wilson River, as well as all other rivers on the Tillamook coast.

Jasper

Jasper comes in a wide variety of colors, from brilliant reds, pinks, yellow, green and orange.

Another method for finding good backcountry rock is to drive the roads within the Tillamook State Forest, the Siuslaw National Forest and the land operated by the Bureau of Land Management. You can often times spot good rock just sitting embedded into the cutbank above the road. Additionally, road gravel itself can hold treasures left there from road-rock quarries.

Then, there are the beaches. Gorgeous beach agates are traditional finds, as well as the colorful jaspers in their greens, reds, yellows, oranges, browns and greys. Finding a rare carnelian agate is the more sought after as they are worth something to local rock shops if you find a good specimen.

As you rockhound, keep in mind that you’re in a sensitive ecological area. If you find yourself using a shovel to take out a good sized stone, make sure and fill in the hole you took it from.

For more local information, make a trip to the southern Tillamook Coast just north of Pacific City in a community called Tierra Del Mar. Look for Pier Ave Rock Shop at 5845 Pier Ave, Tierra Del Mar.

Brian Cameron
Having grown up in Tillamook and choosing to continue to call the area home, Brian Cameron has spent a good deal of his time and energy into getting to know the hidden corners of the Tillamook Coast. After visiting over 25 countries and spending time honing his creative arts in Seattle and Portland, he decided he wanted to show visitors what Tillamook County has to offer for the outdoor enthusiast and tourists. And so he started his own local tour company, Tillamook Eco Adventures. When he's not showing visitors around, he's a proud father of twins and keeps busy with all kinds of creative endeavors such as writing, painting and photography.

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