4 Cool Spots You Can Mine for Gold and Gemstones

Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground

Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground

Courtesy of Crystal Grove Diamond Mine

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

Courtesy of 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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