- Emerald Hollow Mine in North Carolina allows visitors to hunt for over 60 types of naturally occurring gems and minerals including emeralds, sapphires, and quartz.
- To look for gems, visitors can go sluicing (using a water flow to look for gems), creeking (sorting through dirt to find gems), or digging.
- Permits for sluicing or creeking are $12 per adult, or $7 for children ages 4 to 11.
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If you’re looking for an affordable adventure that rewards you with precious gemstones, you’re in luck.
The Emerald Hollow Mine offers amateur prospectors the opportunity to roll up their sleeves (and pant legs) to hunt for over 60 types of naturally occurring gems and minerals including emeralds, sapphires, and quartz.
The mine is advertised as the only place in the world where the public can prospect for emeralds and it’s tucked away in the small town of Hiddenite, North Carolina.
You can choose from three different gem-mining activities: sluicing, creeking, or digging
The mine is open year-round to families, school groups, or individual crystal enthusiasts looking to add to their collection and it offers three main activities: sluicing (using a water flow to look for gems), creeking (sifting through dirt for gems), and/or digging.
A one-day permit for sluicing or creeking costs $12 per adult and $7 each for children ages 4 to 11. You can also get a combo deal that allows you to do both for just $20.
For $30, you can do all three: digging, sluicing, and creeking.
For a small fee, you can also rent trowels and sifting screens to help you search for gemstones in the creek, but be prepared to get a little muddy.
You can also look through special buckets that cost between $5 and $1,000
According to the Emerald Hollow Mine website, sluicing is the easiest and most popular activity, but it can also be the most expensive one.
To go sluicing, visitors can purchase buckets of various sizes and sift through them in hopes of finding gems, and there are a lot of options to choose from. “Native” buckets are filled with native dirt and may not contain any stones, whereas the “Enriched” buckets are guaranteed to contain treats like quartz, agate, obsidian, topaz, and/or emerald.
Prices range from $5 for a 2-gallon child’s bucket up to $1,000 for bins designed for those who are really serious about finding precious stones.
This isn’t the only place in the world where you can affordably hunt for shiny gemstones
At Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park, visitors can search a massive volcanic crater for rough diamonds with a “finders, keepers” policy and free identification and registration services. Admission costs just $10.