Montana Rockhounding: Spots For Gems Mining in Montana

Montana is a rockhounder's paradise, famous for its sapphire mines. Montana offers several notable locations for those interested in digging for gems andcrystals.While specific finds can vary, the following areas are recognized for their potential in yielding gemstones and crystals.

Montana Rockhounding: Spots For Gems Mining in Montana

Here are some popular locations where you can try your luck unearthing your own gems:

Gems Mines in Montana

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine - Philipsburg

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine: This historic location is Montana's largest sapphire mine and offers different digging experiences. You can choose from their general dig piles or the VIP section for a higher concentration of sapphires. They also provide basic tools and have a staff gemologist to help identify your finds.

What you'll find: Primarily sapphires in various shades of blue, green, and yellow. You might also find other minerals like pyrite and garnets.

Fees: Prices vary depending on the digging area and duration. General Dig Piles: Prices vary depending on bucket size and time. Typically starts around $20 for a small bucket. VIP Section: Offers a higher concentration of sapphires, with fees starting around $100 per person. Check their website for current rates.

Open from: May 24th – September 2nd

Address: 21 Sapphire Gulch Lane at mile marker 38.4 of Montana Highway 38, Skalkaho Pass Road, between Hamilton and Philipsburg. Look for the Gem Mountain sign.
21 Sapphire Gulch Lane, Philipsburg, MT 59858, United States

Montana Blue Jewel Mine - Helena

Montana Blue Jewel Mine is a family-owned mine offers a more rustic experience where you can dig for sapphires in screened buckets of sapphire gravel. Reservations are required as they only have a limited number of screening stations available.

What you'll find: Sapphires in a variety of colors and sizes.

Fees: They charge a per-bucket fee, with prices ranging from $20-$40 per bucket depending on the size. Reservations are required.

Must call (406) 437-8605 for reservations

Address: 5582 Four Cee's Rd, Helena, MT 59602, United States

The Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine - Helena

The Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine and Gold Fever Rock Shop, located near Helena, Montana, is a popular destination for treasure hunters seeking sapphires and even a chance to strike gold!

What you'll find: Primarily sapphires in various colors (blue, green, yellow) and potentially some gold nuggets.

Fees: They have a variety of options depending on the amount of material you want to sift through:

Expect fees to start around $20 for a smaller amount of material. Prices increase for larger quantities or access to areas with a potentially higher concentration of sapphires.

Seasonality: The Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine operates seasonally, typically from April to October. It's always best to call ahead and confirm their hours before your visit, especially at the beginning and end of the season.

Contact: 406-227-8989

Address: 5360 Castles Rd, Helena, MT 59602, United States

Crystal Park Picnic and Mineral Collection Area

Crystal Park Picnic and Mineral Collection Area sounds like a wonderful place for a fun and potentially rewarding rockhounding experience! However, it's important to understand that it's not a traditional pay-to-dig mine.

Crystal Park offers a more casual rockhounding experience in a scenic setting, suitable for families or anyone who enjoys exploring and collecting small mineral samples.

What you'll find: The 220-acre site is known for its decomposed granite scattered with quartz crystals. Visitors can enjoy sifting through this material in search of their own sparkly treasures.

Fees: There's a $5 fee per person (children under 10 are free) to enter the Crystal Park parking area.

Time to visit: Crystal Park is open for day use only, typically from mid-June to mid-October.

Phone: (406) 683-3900

Address: Highway 278 W, Polaris, MT 59746, United States

The Garnet Ghost Town - Deer Lodge

The Garnet Ghost Town, located near Deer Lodge, Montana, isn't exactly a pay-to-dig mine in the traditional sense. However, it offers a unique opportunity to pan for garnets, a semi-precious gemstone, and potentially even find some gold flakes!


Panning for garnets: The town has a designated panning area where visitors can try their luck at finding garnets in the streambeds. You can usually rent pans on-site or bring your own.

Exploring the historic ghost town: Garnet Ghost Town boasts over 30 preserved buildings from its mining heyday. Take a self-guided tour, visit the visitor center, and learn about the town's interesting history.

Fees: There's typically a small entrance fee to access the panning area, around $3 per person over 16 years old.

Seasonality: Garnet Ghost Town is typically open from late May to September, depending on weather conditions.

Not a Substitute for Pay-to-Dig Mines: If you're serious about finding larger or more valuable gemstones, Garnet Ghost Town might not be the best choice.

Phone: +1 406-329-3914

Address: RMG7+PF, Garnet, MT 59832, United States


No matter which location you choose, gem hunting in Montana offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, history, and the thrill of discovery. Remember, the most valuable treasure you might find is the experience itself – the camaraderie of searching with friends or family, the satisfaction of unearthing a beautiful gem, and the connection to Montana's rich geological heritage. Happy hunting!

Read also:
New York: Places for Gemstones Mining in New York
Texas & New Mexico Rockhounding: Places to Dig for Gemstones
Best Crystal and Gem Hunting Spots in the USA

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