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

Geology of the Area:

The formations here consist of volcanic ash tough and mud originally deposited in shallow lakes.  The sediments are in part overlain by lava flows.  The sedimentary beds have been divided into upper middle and lower divisions the upper beds contain fossil remains in the form of bones and teeth of mastodon camels and other fauna while the middle beds contain silicified wood and plant remains is principally in these middle beds that the opal occurs in the form of wood casts. These productive beds are buried by overburden sometimes as much as 100 feet thick. Many of the plant remains in the opal beds are only partly replaced by silica and still contain considerable carbonaceous material.  Precious opal is sparsely and irregularly distributed throughout the deposit, but comprises only a very small part of it.

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.

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.

The three areas open for rock hounds are

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

Dig Your Own Unique Opals From Nevada
Virgin Rainbow from  Virgin Valley, Nevada
See also:
Part I: Top Spots For Gem Hunting In The US
Part II: Top Spots For Gem Hunting In The US
Texas & New Mexico: Places Where Can You Go to Dig for Gemstones
Where to Find Crystals in Arkansas: The Top Spots for Crystal Digging
What is Lake Superior Agate, and Where Can You Find It?
What is Petoskey stone, and Where Can You Find It?
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