While traveling in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan recently, I was reminded of an article I had read a few years earlier about "Yooperlite" rocks. So, I decided to hunt for my own, and it turns out, it's actually pretty easy to find them.

It all started in a souvenir store in Ontonagon, Michigan. In one aisle of the store, there was a selection of small blacklights that were for sale. They varied in size and price and the sign said they were used to find "Yooperlite" rocks.

When Were Yooperlite Rocks First Discovered?

The first discovery of these special, glowing rocks only goes back to June of 2017. Erik Rintamaki, a gem and mineral dealer in the Upper Peninsula, heard of certain minerals that would glow when subjected to ultraviolet light. He found an affordable hand-held UV light online and purchased it to use while exploring the shores of Lake Superior.

While walking along the water he would find two stones, about the size of a dime, that seemed to have a yellow-orange glow to them when they were illuminated with the UV light. The story of his findings made the national news.

What Makes the Yooperlite Rock Glow?

It is actually a mineral in certain rocks that creates the fire-like glow to these rocks. The sodalite in the rock reacts to a certain type of black light. The electromagnetic radiation (from the UV light) at one wavelength is absorbed by the sodalite, which then re-emits radiation at a longer wavelength -- creating the yellow-orange glow. In simpler terms: "the black light makes them look like they are glowing embers!"

How to Find Your Own Yooperite Rocks

Finding these rocks isn't easy with just a naked eye, however using a certain type of portable UV light, the rocks will glow if you are searching for them after dark. It's not just any black light that will work. You need to find a 365nn longwave light. I was able to purchase one of these things at the souvenir shop I was at for $20.

Most of these rocks have been found along the Lake Superior coastline in the Upper Peninsula. I found mine just west of Ontonagon, Mich., but the website www.travel-mi.com has put together an interactive map showing where people have been finding these glowing rocks. Most of them seem to have been in the area from Grand Marais over to Sault St. Marie...

Many people have begun searching for these things. Try to find a place to search that others have not already been to. The locals also told me that the best time to search is after some stormy waters on the big lake. The waves will help wash some of these stones ashore.

The Yooperlite Rocks I Found

I was only out on the shore of Lake Superior for a few minutes before finding about a half dozen Yooperlite rocks of various sizes (the biggest about the size of a golf ball). I was on a section of private beach that was owned by the small hotel I was staying at.

I was surprised by how quickly you could see these things once you shined the UV light onto the beach. I found the best place to search was actually a few feet into the water. Be prepared to get your feet wet. I just used my bare hands to dig some of these things out of the water, but in the future, I may take a small garden shovel with me.

Here are the rocks I found... This is what they look like in regular light...

Yooperlite Rocks - Regular Light
Photo: Scott Winters/Townsquare Media
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Here is what they look like once you shine them with the special 365nn longwave light...

Yooperlite Rocks - UV Light
Photo: Scott Winters/Townsquare Media
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Here is the type of UV light that I purchased at the souvenir store. You can also find them online at the official Yooperlites.com website store.

UV Light
Photo: Scott Winters/Townsquare Media
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The Yooperlite rocks are so cool! Obviously a great find while I was on vacation and I'll definitely continue my search for these things the next time I'm in the area. If you do get lucky enough to find some of these things, keep in mind that the DNR has a 25-pound limit on collecting rocks and minerals per person, per year on state-owned land in Michigan.

Here are a couple of videos on Yooperlite hunting. The first one is by the man who originally discovered them...

And this one really shows best what it is like while out searching for Yooperlites...

Happy Hunting!

 

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