If you have always felt that treasure hunting is the stuff fairy tales are made of, think again! Here’s a list of places where you can go looking for treasures and have fun with your family at the same time. Sounds interesting? Just have a look at the treasure hunting vacation spots enlisted here.
Vacations are meant to be fun-filled getaways when you can enjoy some interesting and exciting activities with the entire family. Whenever we think of a vacation, we think of sunny beaches, mouth-watering delicacies, adventure sports, and lots and lots of fun! But have you ever experienced the thrill of being on a treasure hunting vacation? If not, then you must give it a shot. Treasure hunting can add a touch of magic to your vacations, and make them appear something straight out of fantasy. Imagine looking for precious stones and finding them! There are certain places on our planet that are geologically rich, which means the earth’s crust at these places is continuously changing. These places are rich in minerals and precious stones. In the United States, you’ll find many such places and a few of them are open to the public. If you dig the earth at these places, you are likely to come across different types of precious and semi-precious minerals. What’s more, at most of these locations, you can enjoy a host of other exciting activities with your family.
Top Treasure Hunting Vacation Spots
The best thing about treasure hunting vacations is the possibility of finding something interesting (you can strike it rich if you’re lucky enough!). So, which are the best places to go treasure hunting? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s a comprehensive list of the top treasure hunting vacation spots in the US.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Location: Murfreesboro, Arkansas
The only place on earth that allows visitors to dig for diamonds, the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is truly one of its kind. There are several things that make this place special for people who love the thrill of hunting for treasure. The fact that there are no restrictions on how much “treasure” a visitor is allowed to carry with him, is evident from the policy of the park itself that says, “finders keepers”. This means that if you’re lucky enough to find a sparkling piece of stone, you get to take it home! So, after spending hours digging parts of the 37.5 acre area, which is the result of years of erosion of the surface of a volcanic crater, if and when you finally strike gold (read diamonds!) you can get your treasure examined by a professional at the park, who will then register your find. In addition to white, brown and yellow diamonds, the Crater of Diamonds State Park boasts of at least 40 different minerals and crystalline rocks (including precious and semi-precious stones) that can be unearthed here. So, even if you don’t manage to find any diamonds, there’s nothing to get disheartened about. The chances are pretty much high that you shall find something that’ll make you happy. Also, the necessary digging and mining equipment are available on rent at the park.
There are many other things in the park that may interest you, once your quest for diamonds is over. You can take a walk or go hiking in the serene woods that surround the park, have fun at the water park located within the premises, enjoy a picnic with your family, or go fishing on the Little Missouri River. Crater of Diamonds State Park is a nature lover’s paradise, where one can witness the diverse flora and fauna of Arkansas. What’s more, if you are an avid wildlife photographer, then here you can get some amazing shots of animals in their natural setting.
Cherokee Ruby Mine
Location: Franklin, North Carolina
The ruby is one of the most beautiful precious stones and here at the Cherokee Ruby Mine, you can find some of these fiery-red stones by yourself. The mine is located on the scenic Cowee Valley in North Carolina and in addition to rubies, here you can find a host of naturally occurring gemstones including sapphire, moonstone and garnet. So, whether you’re a student or a professional rock hound, you’re sure to have a great time digging for treasures in the park! Once you reach there, you can collect the equipment required for digging, at the entrance to the mine. Every visitor is provided with a seat cushion and a screen box, and if you wish for some protection from the sun, you can borrow a shade umbrella for as little as $1 per day. Once inside, you can park your cars and get started. There are professionals who would be helping you to identify gemstones and providing you with some useful tips.
Emerald Hollow Mine
Location: Hiddenite, North Carolina
One of the most fascinating geological sites in North America, the Emerald Hollow mine is the only emerald mine in the U.S. that allows visitors to dig for specimens of this precious stone. This place, however, does not offer prospecting for free. When you pay the entry fee to get inside, you get a bucket of gravel, taken from the mine, for free. For more buckets, they charge you an additional amount per bucket. Also, if you wish to try your hand at digging at the mine area, you can do so by purchasing a permit at an additional cost. Not only do you find emeralds here, but also aquamarines, topaz, garnets, sapphires, tourmaline, and amethysts. Like in most other mining sites that are open to the public, you’ll find experts here who will train you in the process of emerald mining, and help you identify your finds. You can visit this place all round the year, except on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.
Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine
Location: Philipsburg, Montana
The Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine in Montana is the oldest and largest sapphire mine in the US. While locating the mine that is situated on a mountain, might be difficult, the possibility of finding a sparkling sapphire or two, makes the journey worth it. The process of digging for treasures at Gem Mountain is slightly different from that at most other mines. The mine area is not open to the public and you need to pay for a bucket of gravel dug by the staff, from the mine. All you need to do is take the gravel and wash it to find rough sapphires, and the necessary equipment will be provided to you. There are experts to guide you in identifying a gem quality sapphire, and tell you if heat treating is necessary to bring out its color. What’s more, you can even get your sapphire cut to precision, for use in jewelry. And in case you don’t find anything to take home, don’t lose heart. You can always purchase a few pieces of cut sapphire or choose from a range of exquisite sapphire jewelry available for sale at the mine.
Spruce Pine Aquamarine Mine
Location: Spruce Pine, North Carolina
Owned by the oldest mining family in the U.S., the Spruce Pine Sapphire Mine is located on the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and is under operation. This famous mine has been featured in popular magazines such as the National Geographic Magazine, and also in different television channels. Here you can not only find aquamarine but also a host of other precious and semi-precious stones. To get started, you need to pay for a bucket of mine gravel and then look for gems in it. There are professionals to guide you through every step and also help you identify your gems. Not only this, if you happen to find a precious gem, you can get it transformed to jewelry on the spot. The family that owns the mine, claims that they have old maps of the area that have helped them locate several mine sites. Their policy is such that visitors get to keep whatever they find.
Rockhound State Park
Location: Deming, New Mexico
The Rockhound State Park is popular for the “thunder eggs” that you can find there. What are thunder eggs, you may ask. Well, thunder eggs are nothing but spherical geological structures formed by the solidification of lava that is rich in silica. These can vary from a few inches to a meter in length. If you look at a thunder egg, you’ll find that it looks much like any ordinary rock. However, if you crack it open, you’ll find crystals of geode, agate, opal, amethyst, quartz, hematite or jasper inside it. The thunder egg is the state rock of Oregon.
The Rockhound State Park is located on the slopes of the Florida and Little Florida Mountains. The policy at the park allows visitors to take not more than 15 lbs of rock with them. In addition to hunting for thunder eggs, there are many other activities for visitors. You can enjoy a picnic with your family or go hiking on the mountain slopes. There are two hiking trails named Jasper Trail and Thunderegg Trail, and these are strewn with different types of volcanic rocks. A glimpse of the scenic beauty on both sides of the trails, is sure to leave you spellbound! Another key attraction of the park is the Desert Alive festival that is celebrated every year in April.
Bonanza Opal Mine
Location: Denio, Nevada
At the Bonanza Opal Mine, which is famous for its gem quality fire-opals, you can go hunting for opals only from May-September, and for the rest of the year the park remains closed for visitors. If you are planning to visit the mine, do not forget to carry a bucket and some tools for digging, as the park doesn’t provide these things to the visitors for free. Also, the region experiences high temperatures with very low humidity, so carry sunglasses and use a sunscreen on your skin, to protect yourself from the scorching rays of the sun. If you are looking for a getaway for the entire family, you can try camping near the mine. Other activities that you might enjoy around the mine, are fishing in the Dufurrena Ponds or the Big Spring Reservoir, bird watching, visiting the Mickey Hot Springs, hiking and mountain biking on the Hart and Steens mountains, catching a glimpse of wild animals in their natural setting, and much more.
Royston Turquoise Mine
Location: Tonopah, Nevada
Run by the Otteson family since 1958 when Lynn Otteson first came to Tonopah, the Royston Turquoise Mine is one of the oldest turquoise mines in the US. The turquoise mined from the Royston Mine is known as “Royston Turquoise”, and it is renowned the world over for its varied colors. Not only do you find specimens in varying shades of green and blue but also with streaks of both the colors. Turquoise mined here is one of the most finest in the world.
Not every visitor to the Royston Turquoise Mine is allowed into the mining area. If you are interested to dig, however, you are allowed in for a fee. The maximum duration for which one is allowed to hunt for turquoise at the mining area, is 3 hours. Also, one is not allowed to collect more than a bucket of gravel from the mining area. Like most other mines that are open to the public, this place has a jewelry store and you can get your “precious find” turned into a beautiful piece of custom-made jewelry. However, do not forget to carry your own digging tools whenever you visit the place.
Big Sur Coastline
The Big Sur coastline in California is the largest deposit of jade in the world. The jade found in this region is nephrite jade and it can be found underwater or on the beaches. For the past fifty years, the Big Sur coastline has been attracting visitors from all over the world, who come and explore the ocean bed in the hope of finding a good specimen of this precious rock. One of the top attractions of this area is the Big Sur Jade Fest held every year. It is a festival that is celebrated for 3 days during which jade artifacts and jewelry are up for sale. However, it is important to note that while hunting for jade can be a wonderful experience, it’s not that easy to find gem quality jade that you can turn into jewelry. The types of jade that you find in the Big Sur Jade Clove are ‘Big Sur Bubble Jade’, green jade, blue jade, and vulcan jade. Vulcan jade is the rarest of them all, and is multicolored with streaks of reds, yellows and oranges.
Roaring Camp Gold Mine
Location: Pine Grove, California
Located on the banks of the Mokelumne river, the Roaring Camp was discovered during the gold rush in California during the 1850s and is still in operation. The mine is open to visitors who are interested in gold prospecting and trying their hands at fun sports such as rafting, swimming, hiking, rock climbing, and even fishing. The ‘Saturday Night Cookout Dinner’ is also a major attraction, where you get to taste some delectable steak BBQ. There’s also a museum in the premises and you’ll find guides who will show you around. Visitors are provided with all the necessary equipment for gold prospecting, including gold pans, rocker boxes, sluice boxes, and gold bearing gravel bags. The crystal clear waters of the Mokelumne river, and the surrounding mountains with waterfalls, all contribute to the scenic landscape of the mine.
Thus, you see that there are quite a few treasure hunting spots in the US. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and set off for a fun-filled vacation to one of these destinations. After all, there are treasures waiting to be discovered!