Searching for Petoskey stones may as well be Michigan’s favorite pastime. These beautiful prehistoric coral have been found all over the state, even on forest floors. They are remnants of a coral reef that existed during the Devonian time period when this area was a tropical sea!
Although Petoskey stone collection is strictly prohibited on federal lands, such as the National Lakeshore, rock hunters may still collect up to 25 pounds of stones per year outside of the Park, on state-owned lands.
Petoskeys are the official state stone and very abundant along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. But pursuant to Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 – 2.1, they must remain in the Park. It is illegal to take any natural thing from a National Park, even flowers, mosses and rocks unless explicitly permitted. Park Rangers liken the National Lakeshore to a museum. It is intended to be left as-is for the next visitors to explore.
The National Lakeshore ends at 1/4 of a mile into Lake Michigan, the National Park Service does not allow the taking of any rocks. This policy is enforced by Rangers and local law enforcement along National Lakeshore beaches. Some edibles (the fruiting portion) are allowed to be harvested from Sleeping Bear, such as the Morel mushrooms and fruits that are not deemed to damage the natural areas by doing so, but this does not include rocks.
According to Julie Christian, Chief of Natural Resources at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, “Lakeshore visitors may find and admire Petoskey stones on its Lake Michigan beaches, but the stones must be returned to the lake to maintain the pristine nature of the environment.”
Enjoy the hunt, but please don’t take.
So feel free to explore the beautiful rocks along our National Lakeshore, whether it be Petoskeys , Frankfort Greens or Leland Blues; there’s truly nothing like it for avid rock hounds or budding pebble pups. Just be sure to put them back for the next visitors. Several local rock hounds have found Petoskeys and other favorite stones at Point Betsie, City of Frankfort Beach, Van’s Beach in Leland as well as Crystal Lake.
(This article was updated in August 2021.)