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Where to find agates on the North Shore?

I plan on going to Grand Marais. I enjoy picking agates, but when you talk to people who are from around these parts, they tell me there none to be found any more. I have the feeling they like to keep the spots for themselves. We were in Copper Harbor, Mich., two times in 2009, had a great time and lots of nice country, took pictures and looked for agates, but had no luck. I was told by the people up there that they are hard to find. How can I find out where to stay overnight and spend a week up there? Thank you. - Harry, Hager City, Wis.

Lake Superior beaches, especially those around such tourist towns as Grand Marais, are not good places to look for agates simply because they're picked over.

The exception would be the beaches on wilderness islands, if you're able to get to one. And if you look in early spring, after winter storms have washed new rocks onto beaches, you might find some.

On the North Shore of Minnesota, the mouth of the Beaver River on the north edge of Beaver Bay is a good place to look, and so is Good Harbor Bay/Cutface Creek Wayside south of Grand Marais. But don't expect to find more than the littlest agates.

For more, see Beaches of the North Shore and How to find an agate. For more on places to stay, see Where to stay on Minnesota's North Shore and Artistic Grand Marais.

If you value agates more than scenery, the best picking is in eastern Minnesota or northwest Wisconsin gravel pits or anywhere else where the soil is newly disturbed, such as areas with road construction.

For guaranteed agate-picking, go to Moose Lake, Minn., for Agate Days, July 17-18 in 2010. For more, see Agate stampede.

Last updated on January 17, 2010