Places to check out while planning your next vacation:
- Crater Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. The dig area is a large open, plowed field. Make sure to bring a hat, water and sun screen. In our three visits to the park, we never found a diamond, but each time we were there, the diamond horn blow for others! Make sure to stop by the visitor center. There you can rent equipment, learn how to spot a diamond and why diamonds are found in Arkansas...of all places. Make a day of it and bring along a picnic lunch.
- Crystals Mines near Mt. Ida Arkansas. The small town of Mt. Ida has a few rock shops whose owners have property where people can dig for crystals for a fee. Bring water, food, sun screen, and equipment (hammer, chisel, brushes and large bucket to hold finds).
- Amethyst just north of Thunder Bay, Canada. The mine we visited does not have a website. We left with two buckets full of beautiful amethysts.
- Fish Fossils mines near Kemmerer, Wyoming. Be prepared for long, dusty and bumpy roads, but the mines here are well worth the drive. Most mines will provide you with chisels and hammers to spit the sandstone slabs. Bring along a large box and old towels to protect your finds in the car. Fees here are higher, but you will not leave empty handed. There are 3-4 mines in the area. Visit Fossil Butte National Monument to learn the history of the area. We spent a fantastic afternoon at Fossil Safari. Make sure to watch your speed when driving through Kemmerer.
- Dinosaur Digs can be hot, dirty and dusty, but well worth it. You will work alongside geologists and/or paleontologists. Our first dig was through Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction. Children as young as 5 can participate. We also went on digs with Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in Bynum, Montana and Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Make sure to bring along water, sun screen and a hat. Reservations and a deposit are required with most museums. We were not allowed to take dinosaurs fossils home, but the experience and memories will last us a life time.
- Agates along the North Shore of MN. No equipment needed here, just a good eye.
- Pan for gold in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Many locations will provide you the equipment as part of your mining fee.
- North Caroline has many gem mines around the city of Franklin. There you can find rubies, sapphires, amethyst and more. We have not mined here yet, so this area is at the top of my list.
A great website to start your research into finding mines open to the public for a fee is rocktumler.com.
Some mines will ship you a box of gems or fossils. Science Explorers purchased a box of trilobite fossils from U-Dig Fossils in Utah. The box came with small slabs of sandstone each containing visible trilobite fossils. We have also purchased 25 pound boxes from Old Cardinal Gem Mine which contained amethyst, garnets, moonstones and many others rocks and gems.
Create a mini-dig at home. This is a great activity for both preschool and school-age children:
- Fill a large container with sand and/or dirt.
- Mix in rocks and gem stones or add gold glitter to pan for "gold".
- Have the children scoop some of the gem dirt into a bowl or pie pan to look for gems.
- Option...give them a piece of screening and a cup of water. The children can scoop some of the gem dirt onto the screen and then add water. The water and dirt/sand will flow through the screen leaving behind the larger rocks and gems.
- Have the children use a rock/gem/mineral book to try to identify their finds.
- Have fun!
Please leave a comment if you have any questions about any of the mines or digs listed.
Thank you for visiting,