Similar to the therapeutic relaxation of tossing a fishing line or hand-pressing fresh dough, a methodic hunt of natural resources—that is, finding gems—is worth a vacation, too. Consider taking a vacation to one of these geologically rich destinations and you might just find enough gemstones or precious metals to pay for the trip, because you can keep everything you find. You're guaranteed to have a good time looking—even if you come up empty.
If you have not Read the first Part I: Top Spots For Gem Hunting In The US
Rock Hound State Park, Deming, New Mexico
Rockhound State Park is a prime spot for hunting thunder eggs aka geodes. Thunder eggs look like muddy rocks and can be popped open to reveal valuable crystals such as amethyst, rose quartz and hematite. To distinguish a geode from a regular rock, look for a spherical external shape, often cauliflower-like in texture. You may need a hammer or chisel to break open the rock. Visitors are allowed to leave the park with 15 lbs. of rock to add to their personal collection.
Gem Mountain, Spruce Pine, North Carolina
Gem Mountain is located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina in the heart of the Spruce Pine Mining District. They operate several mines in the area and offer mining at the flume line where you go through buckets of material or you can take a trip out to a mine and dig your own. They have the Brushy Creek Mine where you can dig for aquamarine, garnet, golden beryl, tourmaline, smoky quartz and clear quartz. It is a relatively new mine and has been very successful. You can also take a trip out to the legendary Hoot Owl Mine. This mine has been around for a 100+ years. It is a very impressive mine to see. These trips are 4 hour trips and transportation, tools and a guide are provided. The cost is $75 for adults and $35 for children 11 and under. Free stone identification is provided and lapidary and jewelry making services are available.
Bonanza Opal Mine in Denio, Nevada
Plan your hunt for fire opals at the Bonanza Opal Mine in Denio, NV. This mine has been in operation since the early 1900s. The mining season runs from May to September, and the weather can get warm and very arid. Water bottles, sun block, a hat and gloves are suggested items to bring with you. Rock hounds should also bring a small rake and buckets for collecting their finds. Many opal mines are located in remote areas, so be prepared to camp and bring all necessary food. Visitors can camp near the mine and hotels are less than 30 miles from Virgin Valley.
Graves Mountain, Lincoln County, Georgia.
Graves Mountain is a unique geological formation located in Lincoln County, Georgia. Beginning in the 1920's, Tiffany’s mined the site for rutile, a substance used for polishing diamonds. Graves Mountain is filled with some of the finest specimens of Rutile, Kyanite, Lazulite, Iridescent Hematite, Pyrophyllite, Pyrite, Ilmenite, Fuchsite, Barite, Sulfur, variscite, woodhouseite, cacoxenite, blue quartz, quartz crystals, etc.
More Infromation here.
Diamond Hill Mine, Abbeville, South Carolina.
Over millions of years, erosion has occurred to the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains which is one of the oldest mountain chains in the world. This has exposed a small 3 acre spot full of some of the widest variety quartz crystals in the world, known as Diamond Hill! Some of the best Amethyst, Smokey, Skeletal(Elestial), Angle Plated, Iron & Manganese Oxide coated, Aura, and other crystals are found here! Other minerals including Beryl, Garnet and Epidote have also been recovered! Fees
Adult/$20, Teen(13-17)/.$10. More Informotion here.
Alabama Gold Camp, Lineville, Alabama.
This site, about 85 miles east of Birmingham, rents shacks for lodging and welcomes families. There are 34 mine sites within a 5 mile range of the camp. On a Alabama Big Ten Gold map the camp is located in the center of the largest pile of nuggets. The camp has a major uplift thru the center of the property. AGC has miles of gold bereing creeks (Wesobugla & Crooked) for dredging. You can camp on the shaded creek banks or in the campground with full hookups. There are bathrooms and hot showers. The prospecting store will be open for your camping and prospecting supplies including a full line of rental equipment. The prices are fair.
More information here.
Spencer Opal Mines, Spencer Idaho
The mini mine is open to all rock hounds and adventurers who want to dig their own opal. You are welcome to leave with up to one (1) pound of treasure for the cost of the dig ($10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 4 to 12). You can take more rocks for an additional $10.00 each pound. More information here.
Spectrum Sunstone Mine, located near Plush, Oregon.
Spectrum Sunstone Mine, located near Plush, OR, in Lake County Oregon, is an Oregon sunstone mine open to the public for mining Oregon Sunstone. Visit Spectrum Mine and dig for Oregon sunstone gems from a designated pile of fresh unprocessed ore for free all day and keep what you find (mine personnel must be present). Additional days are $50 per person per day, keep all. Kids 12 years old and younger are free, always. Rock clubs and families and all rockhounds welcome. Some equipment provided (see "digging tools" at bottom of this page). Reservations are NOT required for digging. More information here.
Woodward Ranch, Alpine, Texas
Rare red plum agates are found scattered about at this working West Texas cattle ranch about 70 miles from Big Bend National Park. "They literally lie on top of the ground, so you don't have to do much digging. More information here.
Gem Mountain, Philipsburg, Montana.
Gem Mountain is about 350 kilometers northwest of Yellowstone National Park’s north entrance in the tiny mining town of Philipsburg, Montana. Over the past 100 years or so, more than 180 million carats of sapphire have been unearthed at the Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine, and you could make the next discovery. Staff members are available year-round to instruct you and your family how to search spot a sapphire in the rough and enhance the color of your stone using a sapphire heating treatment. You’ll get wet and dirty during the search, but that’s all part of the fun. More information here.
Read the first part: Top Spots For Gem Hunting In The US
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