No Two Blues Alike

When the Kittitas Indians shared their discovery of blue agate, it was so stunningly beautiful only tribal chiefs were allowed to wear the vibrant mineral. Blue agate was rare enough to require directions for those that sought it. “Walk with the sun over your left shoulder,” was the Kittitas tribe’s advice.

Word got out quickly, and the blue was popularized in the 1920s by Alfred Kunz of Tiffany Jewelers. The hunt was on, and it continues today for what’s now known as “Ellensburg Blue Agate.” According to Forbes, Ellensburg Blues are the third rarest precious gem in the world, and you can only find them in our corner of the Pacific Northwest. What is it that makes blues special? Simple—scarcity, color range, variety, hardness, and adaptability to a variety of settings.

Intrigued rock hounds flock to Ellensburg’s Rock ‘N’ Tomahawk Ranch to try their luck, and their patience, at finding the elusive blue. Make sure you call beforehand, so Bernice Best can give you the proper orientation before sending you on your way. Best is the salty-but-lovable landowner who lends blue hunters her 160-acre spread for their quest. Seasoned seekers know to follow the honor system that asks for $5 and your contact and vehicle information to be placed in the ranch’s white box. Then you are free to hunt until the cows come home.

The hunt begins with a thorough orientation where hopefuls learn the history of the blue and get an eye on what exactly they’re looking for. “You’re always looking for blue, but never discount what else might be there,” says Best.

Ellensburg Blues were formed nearly 50 million years ago when glacier water flowed over volcanic basalt. People say that no two blues are alike because each stone has a unique mineral structure. Blues are extremely hard and durable (some claim as hard as steel) and range in color from light sky blue to deep purple, though the vibrant cornflower blue is the most prized of all.

Even if you don’t find anything blue, you will at least go home with some unique agates and jaspers, and a hunger for more. And you can always move the hunt to certain shops around Puget Sound and Ellensburg that stock it. Good luck!

Rock ‘N’ Tomahawk Ranch

2590 Upper Green Canyon Rd., Ellensburg


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"Ellensburg Blues are the third rarest precious gem in the world, and you can only find them in our corner of the Pacific Northwest. "