Agate Hunting Surprise on Oregon Coast at Cape Kiwanda
(Pacific City, Oregon) – Tides, winds and sand can do the darnedest of things. Even though it's summer, some prime agate hunting occurred in a few spots around the Oregon coast recently, which normally sees fairly high sand levels that cover up the possibilities of finding those colorful stones.
What a difference a mile makes, too. Earlier this week, at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, one side of the cape featured extremely high sands and thus a few odd sand patterns, but the other side – about a mile away - was quite low, revealing some sizable agate beds exposed.
About a mile north of the main Cape Kiwanda access, where the Pelican Pub Brewery sits and tons of tourists park everyday, there's a small secret road darting off towards the ocean from this forested drive that eventually takes you to Netarts and Oceanside. This is known as McPhillips Beach, though it's still technically part of Cape Kiwanda State Park. The tight one-lane road takes you down to the beach, and you're about a mile from the handsome cape. Here, sand sand levels were abnormally low for summer, with a host of gravel beds exposed, which are the telltale signs of agate hunting paradise.
Laura Joki, owner of Lincoln City agate shop Rock Your World, said that this week saw some interesting and unusual wind patterns which allowed this to happen.
“We had an unusual wind pattern the other day from the north which scoured a few beaches and dumped sand on others,” Joki said. “I imagine this is the cause of the gravel exposure. Gravel areas like this are real treats to the summer rockhound. I'm not sure I would say unusual so much as one of the sparse areas where you can find them this year.”
The effect was dramatic in both parts of Kiwanda. On the northern side, a combination of low tides and low sand levels granted almost unprecedented access to the black basalt columns found near the beach access. A host of fun and funky tide pools came to life here.
On the southern side, the most populated area, massive sand bars created big pools and mini-creeks with intricate patterns along this high-profile beach. Often there is a bit more of a slant to the tide line, sometimes dramatically so, but that was not evident here. The slope upon which the tide rolls in is quite gradual here now.
Other parts of the Oregon coast are showing extremely high sand levels, like around the 35th Street access in Lincoln City, which in turn exaggerates the tidal slope. But a few miles up the road, in the Road's End area, some minor gravel beds are exposed, while just a 100 feet away, other areas are fatter and thicker with sands and sand bars.
These agate conditions can change dramatically and quickly. It's possible they are already gone within a few hours of being spotted.
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