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Yooperlite: FIND Michigan’s Mysterious Glowing Rocks (MAP)

Yooperlite stone on the shores of lake superior in Michigan's upper peninsula
photo by _sovereign_photography_

All About Yooperlites

Rock hounds love Michigan’s shores – and for good reason, thanks to Yooperlites and Petoskey Stones. From the bottom of the Great Lakes, unique and special rocks are picked up with the current and dropped off on the shore for us to find.

Among the many beautiful gem and mineral deposits or rocks in Michigan’s beaches, such as Petoskey Stones and Charlevoix Stones to Lake Superior Agates, the Yooperlite glow stone is one of the most unique. The shores of our Great Lakes provide a pure Michigan treasure trove of rocks for any collector.

Walking along the coast at night with a black light or UV light begins to feel otherworldly as the luminescence hiding in plain sight becomes revealed. You’ll see rocks that feel as if they’ve fallen from space rather than washed ashore from the depths of Lake Superior.

Read on to discover more about Yooperlite glow rocks.

If you plan to travel Michigan in search of Yooperlite, use our map at the bottom of this post to find areas where Yooperlites have been found.

yooperlite rock
Photo by naturally_hippie_chick

What are Yooperlites?

Yooperlites were discovered in 2017 by Erik Rintamaki, who gave them their regional northern Michigan name. This makes them a relatively new discovery, but they aren’t exactly new to the state.

They’re made up of mostly syenite rock, which is similar to granite, which means the rock looks like any other dark stones or typical gray rock, but there’s a twist. Yooperlites are rich with fluorescent sodalite, which glows a vibrant orange or yellow under Ultraviolet Light.

These glow-in-the-dark deposits of sodalite can form various patterns, including sparsely spotted, geometric lines, and an all-over sort of pattern reminiscent of a galaxy somewhere in space.

Each stone is unique and may even host a mix of patterns of the fluorescent sodalite, adding to the ever-growing list of what makes this glowing rock so magnificent.

yooperlite rocks in michigan
Photo by -sovereign-photography

How to Find Yooperlite

Finding Yooperlites is unlike most other rockhounding excursions. Aside from searching at night time, the tools you need to find Yooperlites are a bit specific, but we have you covered with a guide that will help you be successful in your hunt for the perfect Yooperlite rock.

Where to Find Yooperlite

Yooperlites, as the name suggests, are found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, specifically along the Lake Superior coast. You can find them mostly along the eastern beaches of Lake Superior, from Grand Marais to Sault Ste. Marie, however, they’re found along the Keweenaw Peninsula as well.

When to Find Yooperlite

We recommend searching for Yooperlite in the early springtime (from late March into April). In spring the ice has shifted and the rocks that have been stuck all winter are pushed up to the shoreline. Spring also gets you on the beach before they begin to get busy during the summer season, meaning the rocks haven’t already been picked over. As a bonus, there are fewer of those pesky mosquitos in spring!

What You Need to Find Yooperlite

There are a few tools that will help you in your search for Yooperlite; some are specific to finding these elusive rocks and others are equipment that will help keep you safe during your search.

fluorescent yooperlite rocks in Michigan

Tools/Equipment for Finding Yooperlite

Black Light UV Flashlight: This is what will help you find your Yooperlites. Without an ultraviolet light, the rocks won’t glow, so a good quality UV light is a must. We recommend a filtered UV flashlight with UV 365nm for best visibility.

Head Lamp: Upper Michigan is pretty remote and it can get pretty dark out there, especially on the water. A headlamp can help you navigate the rocky coastline safely. A flashlight will also work, but a headlamp will help keep you as hands-free as possible.

Extra Batteries: There’s no bigger bummer than having your Yooperlite search prematurely ended thanks to a dead UV light or headlamp. Bring batteries to replace any dead ones and rock(hunt) on!

Bag: The last thing you want is to gather up a handful of Yopperlites with nowhere to put them. Bring a bag with you to store your treasures in. A mesh bag works great for coastal rock hunting, but a fanny pack or backpack can help keep your hands free. Ultimately, it’s up to your own preference.

Glow Sticks: Glow sticks make fantastic navigational tools. Place them at important points, such as where you entered the beach, and along your path like a neon breadcrumb trail so that you don’t become disoriented in the dark. TIP – Place them away from the water so they don’t get washed away into Lake Superior.

ultimate guide to michigan's upper peninsula
/upper-peninsula

What to Wear When Looking for Yooperlite

Appropriate Shoes: Being near the shore means that you might be getting a bit wet. Additionally, the waves crashing on the rocks means they will definitely be wet, so having shoes that maintain their grip when they’re wet is an absolute must for safe navigation.

Warm Clothes: After the sun sets, the temperatures get pretty low by the water. Always be prepared and bring warm clothes that you can layer as the temperature begins dropping.

More to Bring When Looking for Yooperlite
Water/Snacks: It’s never a bad idea to have food and water on you, especially when outdoors, and even more so when exploring at night. Always be prepared! (Plus, you can satiate any late-night snack cravings you might get.)

Sand Dipper/Rock Scoop: While not necessary, it’s certainly a nice luxury to have when searching for rocks that may be in the water.

Tips and Tricks for Finding Yooperlites

Arrive at your destination before sunset so you can familiarize yourself with the area and make sure you know how to get back to your vehicle safely.

Research the area where you intend to collect. Knowing the region is a massively underrated safety precaution that’s easy to take.

Always check the weather before you go. The last thing you want is to be caught in a storm you didn’t know was coming.

Make sure someone knows where you are! Cell service in the UP can get spotty, so having someone who knows where you are can be a huge help in case of emergency.

Go with friends! Not only is group rockhounding more fun, but there is safety in numbers.

Make sure to check behind you! Different angles of UV light can make the sodalite fluoresce, so shining the light from behind you can make a rock glowing visible that wasn’t seen when in front of you.

Search for Yooperlites after a storm. Similar to Petoskey stones, storms cause disruption that can make new rocks surface.

Have a healthy respect for the mighty Superior and be extra careful when traversing her coastlines. The water level can change drastically within a few minutes with sudden changes in wind or barometric pressure, so using caution is strongly advised.

map of yooperlites in michigan
Q: Where are Yooperlites found?

A: Yooperlites are found on the Lake Superior coast in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Q: What Makes Yooperlites glow?

A: What makes Yooperlites glow is the fluorescent sodalite included in the makeup of the rock.

Q: Are Yooperlites rare?

A: Yooperlites are a relatively unique formation of the common element, fluorescent sodalite.

Q: Can you find Yooperlites during the day?

A: Yes, you can find Yooperlite during the day, but because you need a black light, it’s definitely more visible at night.

Q: What color does sodalite glow?

A: Sodalite glows a fluorescent orange or yellow under UV light and is the mineral that gives Yooperlites their glow

About the Author

Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor with mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.

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