The Art of Skipping a Rock

Andrew Achter

Any northern Minnesotan worth his or her salt knows that skipping rocks is practically a sanctioned pastime around these parts. But, do you know the best angle to whip your rock for maximum skips? How about the perfect type of rock to choose? Read on for some handy tips!

The Art of the Skip

The key to a good skip lies in the spinning of the stone, and by using a flat round stone, you are able to add a lot of spins. Throw the stone hard, with a lot of linear and angular momentum, at a 20-degree angle.

On the water, a stone's spin keeps it poised on its trailing edge, rather than somersaulting. In the air, spin provides stability, like a Frisbee. With each skip, gravity pulls the stone deeper under the surface, and the water creates more drag on the stone. Believe it or not, a skipped stone spends 100 times longer in the air than it does on the water!

When choosing a stone, chose something in the range of four to six inches in diameter. The flow of water around the rock lifts it up, propelling the next hop. The more surface area, the more lift. Calm water and a thin, roundish rock are ideal, but with enough velocity, you can skip almost anything.

Looking for some good places to find some primo skipping rocks? Check out these suggestions.

Best Places to find Good "Skippers"

Brighton Beach

Located on the east end of Duluth, and at the beginning of HWY 61, Brighton Beach offers some of the best skipping stones on the north shore. Enjoy skipping rocks into the abyss that is Lake Superior, or go to the mouth of the Lester River and skip rocks under the Lester River Bridge where the water is usually dead calm.

Grand Marais Harbor

Located in downtown Grand Marais, this beach features a plethora of flat, smooth red stones are perfect for skipping. This is a great spot to release some built up aggression or burn off some calories, and just get lost in time skipping rocks.

Any beach along the North Shore

Pretty much any beach along the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota will feature numerous rocks that you can skip. Basalt and rhyolite are the most common, and you can recognize these by their bluish-black colors, and very small crystals. These are the absolute best stones for skipping.

Fun, Free, Minnesota Entertainment

So, there you have it: the art of skipping a rock, northern Minnesota-style. A fun, free pastime that is wholesome and fun for the entire family. 

But, perhaps you are feeling competitive. In which case, here's an achievement to strive for: the world record for rock skipping is 88 bounces.

Good luck, and happy skipping!!


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