A Guide to Finding Michigan's Yooperlites

 
Michigan beaches are a rock hound’s paradise. Lined with Petoskey stones, Pudding stones, Lake Superior agates and more, this timeless hobby is enjoyed by many. Now you can add syenite rock rich with fluorescent sodalite, also known as Yooperlites®, to your list of rocks to find!
 
Woman holding Yooperlite rock under UV light
Yooperlite | Photo Courtesy of Scott Castelein

 

What are Yooperlites®

These seemingly normal, gray rocks are rich with fluorescent sodalite and glow a vibrant orange and yellow under a UV light. If you’ve enjoyed looking for rocks during the day, wait until you try finding them at night!
 
Image depicting same rocks side-by-side comparing them in normal versus UV light
Florescent sodalite lights up under UV light | Photo Courtesy of Scott Castelein
 
Yooperlites® were discovered in 2017 by Erik Rintamaki (who gave them their Michigan-themed name) but aren’t new to Michigan, rather it’s the first time sodalite rocks were confirmed in Michigan.
 

Where Do You Find Yooperlites®?

Woman searching for Yooperlites under the Milky Way at night
Hunting under the Milky Way | Photo Courtesy of Scott Castelein

Yooperlites® have been found in different areas throughout Michigan but are most prominent in the Upper Peninsula along Lake Superior. The beaches near the Grand Marais area, as well as in the Keweenaw Peninsula, are popular destinations for those searching for Yooperlites®.
 

A Few Things You May Need

Woman searching for Yooperlites along Lake Superior at sunset.
Hunting for Yooperlite at sunset | Photo Courtesy of Scott Castelein

UV Light: Most importantly, a UV light! A filtered 365nm UV light is going to showcase the Yooperlites® and feature their glowing color the best.
 
Headlamp/flashlight: It gets dark out there! Make sure you have an extra light that can help you get back to your vehicle safely.
 
Bag: You need something to keep your Yooperlites® in! A mesh bag works great when you're in the sand and near the water.
 
Rock scooper: Not necessary but can be helpful, especially if the rock you want is in the Lake!
 
Appropriate shoes: You’re most likely going to be right next to the water, so make sure you have the right shoes that can get wet and still have a good grip.
 
Water/snacks: You never know what could happen. Always be prepared, especially when you’re outdoors!
 
Warm clothes: When night falls, it gets cold by the water. Wear layers and stay warm to make your Yooperlite experience more enjoyable.
 
Glow sticks: It’s easy to get disoriented, especially in the dark. Glow sticks can help you identify where you entered the beach and make sure you get back to your vehicle safely. Make sure you place them away from the water to ensure they don’t wash out into the lake.
 

Tips and Things to Remember 

Yooperlite rock in hand under UV light.
Yooperlite at night under UV light | Photo Courtesy of Scott Castelein
 
  • Arrive at your location before it gets dark. Familiarize yourself with the beach, make sure you know how to get back to your vehicle and have a plan before the sun goes down.
  • A great time to find rocks is in the spring when the ice has shifted and moved the rocks along the shore. It’s also before the beaches get busy. Less foot traffic means more rocks! Please note that if there is still ice on the beach, do not climb on it and keep a safe distance.
  • Search for Yooperlites® after a storm when the waves have disrupted and uncovered new rocks.
  • Depending on your rock hunting location, cell service may not be great. Make sure someone knows where you are and that you are able to find your way safely back to your vehicle.
  • Go with a friend! Double the fun of finding Yooperlites® with a rock hound friend. It’s also helpful to have someone on the beach with you in case there is any type of emergency.
  • Be aware and stay safe out there! Searching for rocks at night next to the water has implied risks. Be aware of the weather and the waves.
 
There you have it, a guide to finding Yooperlites®! Next time you come across a simple gray rock, just think, it could be so much more.
 
 
About the Author: Steph Castelein is a blogger, YouTuber and Northern Michigan enthusiast. She lives in Petoskey with her husband and enjoys exploring the outdoors, being near the water and a good campfire to end the night. You can follow her on Instagram at @steph.castelein.