Agates are semi-precious gemstones found throughout most of the world. The Pacific Northwest is one place that has an abundance of them, particularly along the beach. They come in different shapes, color, banding, and opacity, and are typically the most beautiful and prized out of all the beautiful stones found on a beach.
Agates naturally develop when an empty pocket inside a host rock fills in molecule-by-molecule, layer-by-layer as these micro crystals self-organize to form concentric bands or other patterns. The agate material breaks loose from the rock, often eroding and tumbling into a smooth round stone.
Washington was a hotbed of volcanic activity in the Cascade Mountains not so long ago. This often seeds an amazing amount of material which is good for collecting, cutting, tumbling, etc. This is why Washington is the perfect spot to find those precious agates.
6 beaches for finding Agates in Washington State:
1. Damon Point
Damon Point in Grays Harbor County, WA is a long 2.25 mile spit of sand and gravel that flows southeasterly out into the mouth of Grays Harbor. This beach is a particular favorite for agate hunters.
It sits conveniently in the middle of the harbor catching the gems as they are washed out and back by the surf. That is exactly why Damon Point is the perfect spot as it has a good quantity of agates and other rocks on its shores.
Damon Point should definitely be the first place you visit when searching for agates in Washington. With such an abundance of good material, you should definitely not leave empty handed.
2. Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach is a public beach located on the Pacific Ocean within Olympic National Park. It is composed of an ocean beach and a coastal forest. This beautiful coast is the gateway to amazing beach hiking for explorers and access to the beach is very easy for most users. The scenery on this beach is stunning with just the right amount and size of driftwood. This beach has plenty of agates you can search for.
Rialto beach offers much more than just finding agates and you will be treated to lovely forest areas for hiking and camping.
3. Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle, is the largest of the islands in the sound. Whidbey is about 30 miles north of Seattle and lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5 Corridor of Western Washington.
With this island being the longest island in the continental United States, there are plenty of beaches where you can enjoy long walks. Maxwelton beach will be a great choice for hunting beautiful agates. Some very nice pieces have been found there over the years.
4. North Beach
North Beach is the main beach in Port Townsend and it is better known for the sea glass found on the beach. Situated on the Olympic Peninsula, the beach is a great tourist attraction and the gravel fields are in abundance.
Scouring these gravel field are widely known by beachcombers to be a hotspot for agates. As a beachcomber heads east, the bluff on the right will start rising, with Fort Warden crowning the headlands.
In the search for agates, you might want to consider going at low tide. This opens up more of the gravel beds and makes it much easier to spot these rocks. However, you might be able to find a nice piece any time of the day.
5. Glass Beach
A few miles from North Beach, you will find Glass Beach and this is a hot-spot for sea glass as well, but many rockhounds still enjoy a hike and find a few agates hidden in the gravel. While glass beach is a great place for a hike, rockhounds and beachcombers should ensure that they have carefully done their homework on the area. You should go out just as hide tide subsides and the low tide starts.
Granite, basalt, jasper, and quartz of various colors are found in the area, with many prospectors making a habit of visiting Glass Beach to check for new treasures that have washed ashore.
If you find yourself in the nearby location, I highly recommend that you explore North Beach and Glass Beach. You will be rewarded with some beautiful agates and sea glass.
6. Beaches along the Columbia River
The beaches along the Pacific Ocean and throughout the Puget Sound get the most attention, but don’t overlook the Columbia River! There are actually some very abundant agates in certain places along the river.
If you really want to hit the jackpot, consider taking a boat down river and hitting some of the gravel bars that most people can’t get to. You will find some pretty amazing little treasures if you do this.
Washington is a wonderful state for all types of rockhounding. Along the Pacific Coast, hunting for agates is particularly fun and rewarding.
These beaches are a great place to start, but truthfully you could quite possibly find an agate on just about any beach in Washington. In general, you will find the agates scattered among the gravel beaches and less in clean sand.
While Washington agates aren’t particularly valuable from a monetary standpoint, they are still quite a prize for anyone who finds one. Their natural beauty makes for a fine addition to your mineral collection.