4 Cool Spots You Can Mine for Gold and Gemstones

Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground

Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground

St. Johnsville, New York

The treasure: Herkimer diamonds, which are quartz crystals in the shape of cut diamonds

Why it's fun: Beginners can dig and sift in the dirt of two large pit mines, while more adventurous types can take a chisel and hammer to the rock walls, where the brilliant crystals form in pockets. Campsites and cabins are available for overnight stays.

What you'll need: Shovels and screens, hammers and chisels, safety goggles (rentals start at $2; you can buy safety goggles for $3 a pair)

What it costs: $10 for adults, $8 for kids ages 4 to 14, and free for children ages 3 and under

Season: Open mid-April through mid-October

For information: Call 518-568-2914 or go to

Emerald Hollow Mine

Emerald Hollow Mine

Hiddenite, North Carolina

The treasure: Emeralds (shown at right) as well as sapphires, garnets, aquamarines, topazes, amethysts, and other gemstones

Why it's fun: Located about an hour from the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is the only emerald mine in the country that's open to the public. Part of it is a surface mine, where kids can use shovels and screens to sift through dirt, but families can also use a sluice or pan for emeralds in on-site creeks.

What you'll need: A hand shovel, screen, and bucket (equipment rentals start at $2)

What it costs: Permits are $5 per person for sluicing (includes a bucket of ore); $10 for sluicing and creeking (panning in the creek); or $20 for sluicing, creeking, and digging

Season: Open year-round

For information: Call 828-632-3394 or go to

Former FamilyFun intern Ashley E. Blom blogs at

Originally published in the August 2012 issue of FamilyFun

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