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Rockhounding with Jeff Lane

"Ellensburg Blue" is Washington State's most rare and valuable agate. Found only in the central part of the state, many a rockhound has searched for countless hours only to come home exhausted and empty-handed. This rare agate varies from gray-blue to dark blue and is usually banded. The most common color is a cornflower blue.

Most agates are found as broken chips, but a few pieces have been recovered up to about two pounds. Much of the agate is gem quality and you must be extremely careful when cutting to expose the best blue layer. This agate also takes an excellent polish.

The best places to search of course, is in the general Ellensburg area--mainly the localities of Dry Creek, Reecer Creek, Green Creek, and Horse Canyon-These are located northwest of Ellensburg off highway 97 and northeast of town in the Coluckum and Quilomene areas. Another vein of Ellensburg Blue and the related "Teanaway Gray' agate is said to be in the region around Lake Kachees and Keechelus on the upper Yakima River west of Ellensburg.

The land is generally federal (BLM) and private. The public land is open to collecting and many of the private landowners will allow you to search if you ask--but be sure to get permission before you enter private property.

When searching for this agate, work very slowly, watching for faint glimmers of the distinct blue color. It often takes several hours of careful search to recover even a few small chips. Best time to look is in the spring after freezing winter temperatures help bring new specimens to the surface. When searching in summer, remember this is very hot country for the most part. You will need to carry water and use it often to prevent overheating.