What are the Best Places to Mine for Gems or Stones in the US?

Some friends and I are taking a few trips this summer to mine for gems. There aren’t an overwhelming amount of places to mine (aka fee mining) in the U.S., but where there is one, there are many. So better to dive in and find the best, right? I’m basing these off of user reviews, since I don’t have any opinions of my own so far. They’re not in any particular order since there are so many types of stones.

Also, I didn’t include any places without a website (it’s 2012, people) but the ones with websites are still not forgiven cause they’re all just terrible.

  • What is Panning: The process of sifting out your stones with water so that they settle to the bottom
  • What is Sluicing or “High Banking”: A larger scale method of Panning, with a sluice box.
  • What is Creeking: Panning in a river or body of water

The Emerald Hollow Mine | visit their website
Hiddenite, NC 1-866-600-GEMS

Emeralds.The Emerald Hollow Mine is the only emerald mine in the world that is open to the public for prospecting. Located in the heart of one of the only emerald bearing deposits on the North American continent, finds worth thousands of dollars are not at all uncommon here. They have slucing, creeking and digging for gems which is more than a lot of other places. Also, camping.

Sheffield Mine | visit their website
385 Sheffield Farms Rd., Franklin, NC 828.369.8383

Rubies and Sapphires. As featured on the TRAVEL CHANNEL. NATIVE Rubies & Sapphires (some will “STAR”) or Enriched Rainbow Buckets with Semi-Precious Gems from around the world. April 1 – October 31. Open 7 days a week from 10am-5pm. Admission includes 2 starter buckets. Mine rain or shine at covered flumes. Picnic tables, Snacks & Beverages. Gem Identification. Stone Cutting and Setting available. Camping area and cabins available.

Mason’s Ruby and Sapphire Mine | visit their website
6961 Upperburningtown Road. Franklin, NC 828-369-9742

Sapphires, pink and red rubies.This mine has an abundance of beautiful sapphires in all colors along with pink and red rubies. It’s one of Macon County’s oldest and most productive mines. One of the only mines with a guarantee that all will have success their first time. Dig your own dirt. Open April 1 to October 31, 7 days a week 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. . Located in the Burningtown Community off Route 28 North. Follow signs.

Gem Mountain Gemstone mine | visit their website
Hwy 226 Spruce Pine, NC 888-817-5829

Crabtree Emerald, Wiseman and Brushy Creek aquamarine, as well as moonstones, garnet, citrine, ruby, amethyst, sapphire and others. As seen on TLC. Covered flumes allow for prospecting rain or shine. All necessary equipment is supplied. Your stones will be inspected free of charge.

Crater of Diamonds State Park | visit their website
209 State Park Road Murfreesboro, AR (870) 285-3113

Diamonds of all colors of the rainbow can be found at Crater of Diamonds, but the three most common colors unearthed by park visitors are white, brown and yellow. Along with diamonds, over 40 types of rocks and minerals can found here, too. These rocks and minerals include lamproite, amethyst, banded agate, jasper, peridot, garnet, quartz, calcite, barite and hematite. Adult fee is $6.50, Children are $3.50. Bring your own tools. Tools available for rental.

Royal Peacock Opal Mine | visit their website
1 Virgin Valley Road, Denio, NV (775) 941-0374

Opals.The Royal Peacock Opal Mines are located in the Virgin Valley of Northern Nevada, a region renowned for spectacular black fire opals. OPEN May 15 thru Oct. 15. Bank Digging $180.00 per day- per person, Tailings $75.00 per day per person. Children 12 and under with a paid adult dig free in the mine dumps and tailings only. Bring your own tools. Tools available to rent. Camp and RV sites available.

Emerald Village | Visit their website
McKinney Mine Rd, Little Switzerland, NC 828-ROK-MINE

Aquamarine, Emerald, Garnet, Smoky Quartz, Uranium and Fluorescent minerals as well as 60+ other different rocks & minerals. This Gemstone Mine guarantees a gem find every time. Sift through genuine mine ore. Comfortable shaded flumes where knowledgeable, friendly personnel will help you identify your gems. FREE admission to the Gemstone Mine. Children’s buckets are $7.50 and Adult buckets start at $10 and go all the way up to $1,000. Open Daily April 1, 2008- November 15, 2008.

Cotton Patch Gold Mines | visit their website
41691 Gurley Road New London, North Carolina 704-463-5797

Gold. They can melt down your findings into a single Nugget. Panning, Sluicing and HiBanking. Open Year round, but only open on the weekends December through March. Campground. All tools supplied. Adult Panning is $10.00, Children are $6. Sluicing rates vary.

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mines | visit their website
3835 Skalkaho Road, Philipsburg, MT 1-866-459-GEMS

Sapphires are some of the rarest gemstones in the world, but not at Montana’s Gem Mountain. Gem Mountain in Montana was first developed in the 1890s and since then has produced more than 180 million carats of Montana sapphires. Gem Mountain is family owned and operated by the Cooney Family for the purpose of entertaining treasure-seeking visitors from around the world. Open from May 19th through October 9th, they will keep the gate open for you seven days a week, from 9:00 am until 5:00 p.m (from Memorial Day to LaborDay, they extend their evening hours until 7 pm). You can purchase a single gravel bucket ($12 each). Or, try their Lucky Seven Deal (buy six for $72 and get one FREE). This is more of a “sifting” experience than a “mining” experience because they do all the work for you. All equipment provided.

Wegner Crystal Mines | visit their website
82 Wegner Ranch Road, Mt Ida Arkansas (870)867-2309

Quartz crystals. A great experience, learn first hand about geology and mining techniques. Plan on coming early to dig at out Phantom or Crystal Forest Mines to get the most out of your adventure. Tools and buckets are available to borrow with a refundable deposit. Must go as a group $22.00 per person ($220.00 daily minimum) for the whole day. This includes transportation to and from the mine with one of our miners who will act as your guide and help you make the most out of your dig experience. There are no hidden fees and you keep all that you find. Reservations required for mining. Panning and Sluicing needs no reservation. Adults $10.50 Kids under 11 and seniors $6.60. No Food. Mon – Fri 8:00 to 4:00.

Crystal Grove Diamond Mines | visit their website
161 Co. Highway 114 St. Johnsville, NY (800) KRY-DIAM

Herkimer Diamonds. Mine your own “Herkimer Diamonds” in beautiful upstate New York. 3 large areas, no claims. Rent tools or bring your own. Stay next door in their spacious, wooded campground-sites for tent or RV, camping cabins, modern facilities. Mining daily April through October, 8AM to dusk. Camping begins mid-April.

Himalaya Tourmaline Mine | Visit their website
26439 Highway 76, Santa Ysabel, CA 619-444-3731

Tourmalines. Dig your own pink and green California tourmalines from the world’s most famous tourmaline mine, the Himalaya Mine near beautiful Lake Henshaw in San Diego County, 20 miles east of Pala. Over 200,000 lbs. produced since 1898 including quartz crystals, lepidolite, topaz, morganite, and other pegmatite minerals. The prices for all you can dig gem screening at our main location is $75 per person per day. The cost of digging at and touring an active tourmaline mine is $95 per person per day. Buckets of very high grade gem pocket ore which can be taken home for screening are $50 each and there will be extra special $100 buckets as well. Bring a shovel and bucket, although some equipment will be available. Hours of operation are year round from 10am to 3pm.

Gold City Gem Mine | visit their website
9410 Sylva Rd., Franklin, NC 800.713.7767

Rubies, sapphires, citrine, silver topaz, garnet, amethyst, emeralds, iolite, tourmaline, ametrine, and peridot. Home of the 1061 carat sapphire found at Gold City, featured in PEOPLE WEEKLY, DISNEY ADVENTURES and ROCK & GEM Magazines. Native and Enriched Gemstones buckets. Gold Panning and Tumbling offered as well.. New and Improved large covered flume for Gem Mining rain or shine. New inside heated flume for cold days. Located on Highway 441, 6 miles North of Franklin. Open most of the year.

Rose Creek Mine | visit their website
115 Terrace Ridge Dr. Franklin, NC 828.349.3774

Rubies, sapphires, garnets, emeralds and so much more. Open Monday through Saturday in April, May, September and October and seven days a week in June, July and August, 9am to 5pm. Last new miner accepted at 4pm. Dig your own dirt, first bucket free with admission. Help for beginners, equipment supplied, covered flume line, clean restrooms, covered picnic tables, snacks. Five miles north of Franklin on Hwy 28, left on Bennett before river.

Green’s Farm Garnet Mines | view their website
End of Perkins Rd, Roxbury, CT

Almandine Garnet, Staurolite. Greens Farm Garnet Mine is an old, classic location. Large almandine garnet crystals to 1″ across can be found in both hard rock or loose in the soil. The old mine dumps are also scattered around the woods and provide loose crystals without much work. The garnet is a dark wine red to black color, and commonly dodecahedral crystals in a schist matrix. Much of the matrix is very soft, but the best garnets are found in the harder schist. $2.00 fee paid to owners. Slip under door if they are not home (visit website for more details). Bring hand tools, prybars, sledge hammers, insect repellent, food and water.

God I hope someone reads this post, it’s almost embarrassing how much time I spent on this blog entry. Between the non-existent websites and the obscure references, I’m pooped!

If anyone knows of a place to dig for Turquoise, let me know.