Nevada Opal: Dig Your Own Opals in Nevada

Nevada is famous for its colorful black Opal You can dig Own Unique Opals in three areas open for rock hounds

Nevada is famous for its beautiful, colorful black opal.  The state contains some very rich precious opal beds and has produced some spectacular and extremely valuable specimens.  The Virgin Valley opal beds in northwest Humboldt County are perhaps the most famous gemstone locality in Nevada. High quality precious opal emitting a multihued rainbow of color is found replacing wood or other plant material in this remote location.

The Virgin Valley Opal field is in an isolated desert area south of Highway 140 about 25 miles southwest of Denio. Precious opal was first discovered here in 1905 and a number of claims were located at that time. Exploration of these deposits has been continued intermittently by various parties since that time. The opal field lies within an area approximately 5 miles wide and 10 miles long in certain beds outcropping along the walls and slopes of Virgin Creek Valley.

Opals from Nevada. Nevada Rockhounding: Dig Your Own Opals in Nevada
 A Collection of Opals from Bonanza Opal Mine in Denio, Nevada.
Photo: Bonanza Opal Mines

Geology of The Virgin Valley

The Virgin Valley opal district is located in Humboldt County, Nevada, approximately 40 miles northeast of Winnemucca. The geology of the district is characterized by a series of tuffaceous sedimentary rocks of Miocene age, known as the Virgin Valley Formation. These rocks were deposited in a lake environment, and are interbedded with layers of diatomite and volcanic ash.

The opal in the Virgin Valley district occurs as replacements of diatomite and volcanic ash layers. It is thought to have formed during the late Pliocene epoch, when silica-rich fluids circulated through the rocks. The uranium in the opal is thought to have been derived from nearby volcanic rocks.

Dig Your Own Unique Opals From Nevada
The Roebling Opal is an extraordinary 2,585-carat piece of opal from Rainbow Ridge Mine in 1917 from Virgin Valley, Nevada.

Many opal experts consider the Virgin Valley material to be some of the best, brightest and most beautiful opal yet discovered.  The Virgin Valley deposits produce a wide variety material from intensely colored crystal opal to some of the world's finest black opal.  Brilliant flashes of red, blue, yellow, green and all the rest of the rainbow emanate from these spectacular gems.

Nevada Three Areas Open for Rock Hounds

There are areas at Virgin Valley which are open to rockhounds who would like to pay to dig for the fiery precious black opal. You have a couple of different options, tailings diggings or bank diggings.

Rainbow Ridge  Mine

Owned and operated by the Hodson family since 1949.Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine is located in Northwest Nevada, approximately 135 miles from Winnemucca, Nevada, and approximately 100 miles from Lakeview, OR. The closest town is Denio, NV, which is 35 miles away. Denio Junction has reopened and food, fuel and rooms are available. Tailings fee is $100.00 per person per day.

Address: Sage Brush Rd, Winnemucca, NV 89445

Royal Peacock Mine

Since 1981, the Royal Peacock Opal Mine has been open to the public as a pay-to-dig mine. It has yielded countless world-class precious opal specimens during that time. Digging isn't cheap, though. They charge $190 per person per day to dig in the fire-opal-rich bank area and $75 to dig in the mine dumps and tailings (piles of rock extracted from the mine).

Address: 10 Virgin Valley Rd, Denio, NV 89404

Bonanza Opal Mine

The Bonanza Opal Mine is renowned for its fire opals. Since the early 1900s, the Virgin Valley has had a reputation for producing unique, world-class precious gemstones. At Bonanza, you can dig for opals amidst the rugged beauty of the Virgin Valley in northern Nevada.

The fee is $70.00 per person/day. Children 12 and under are FREE with paid adult.

Address: 10 Virgin Valley Rd, Denio, NV 89404
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