Rockhounding, often called amateur geology, is the pursuit of rocks and gemstones for the love of the stone. Where geologists are professionals who are paid to study minerals, rockhounds want to find research, find and display their keepsakes.

Everyone loves buying gemstones. Whether it’s amethysts and opals from a holistic boutique, or diamonds from Tiffany & Co., people enjoy their rocks. So, what if your vacation included finding them? Pan or mine for rocks and gemstones during the day. Then, head back to a relaxing hotel or resort at night.

There are all types of gems all over the world, including the US. Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Arizona all have found more than $2 billion in minerals. Places like Garnett Ledge and Jade Mountain in Alaska give away their secret right in their name. A rockhounding vacation can be a fun way to spend time alone, or with the family.

Mining can be a fun and exciting thing to do on your vacation. There are plenty of public mines that provide tools and teach you how to process, identify and finish your stones. Another way to find gemstones is by looking along rivers and beaches. Bring home a different kind of souvenir on your next getaway with these rockhounding vacation ideas.

1. New York

Whispered Secrets

Fly into Albany, New York and dig up some Herkimer diamonds.

Herkimer Diamonds are a type of quartz and are said to be really fun to mine. First found in New York state, these gems may be so big you’ll need a special tool to get them out.

Crystal Grove Diamond Mine is open to the public on a daily basis. Grab some tools and a seat and get to chiseling for Herkimer Diamonds.

While you’re in town, stay at the Capitol’s Renaissance Hotel. Come home after a day of digging and refresh and relax at this stylish hotel.

Experience some of Albany’s history through visiting the headquarters of the Underground Railroad. An unassuming house, was actually a front to aid Black people in finding their freedom.

2. Arkansas

Head to Nashville, Arkansas. Just 20 minutes south of this little city is Crater of Diamonds, one of the handful of mines in the world where anyone can mine for diamonds.

Start at their discovery center and learn all about the stones you will be mining. Diamonds are on display and the employees there will tell you all about them.
“More than 33,100 diamonds have been found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972. Notable diamonds found at the Crater include the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam, the largest diamond ever unearthed in the U.S” states the website.
Over 40 other minerals can be found while you are mining here, as well as brown, yellow and white diamonds. All diamonds you find are yours to keep!
This is a trip for those who want to immerse themselves into the rockhounding world. Stay at the Crater of Diamonds campground. The park also refers to cabins, RV parks and lodges as alternatives.
The grounds around the park also have a temperature controlled pavilion for picnics on rainy days, trails, a waterpark, gift shop and more. With over 900 acres at this State park, there are plenty of things to do.

3. Alaska


Alaska really is the last frontier when it comes to stones and precious metals.

Gold, platinum and silver are also mined in Alaska. In fact, gemstones come in 2nd to precious metals in Alaska.

Why? Well, the gemstones are generally found in places that are more difficult to unearth. The mountains and overall rugged nature of Alaska make it more difficult.

Fly into Anchorage for a day of fun in Moose Pass. Pan for, “up to 58 different gems, including amethyst and crystals, plus a fossil here and there” at Prospector John’s before taking a float plane to Kodiak Island.

Visit the bears, catch some fish and stay at Kodiak Island Resort. Look for, “Copper, Gold, Lead, Silver, Tin, Zinc” on the south beaches, says Rockhound Resource.

4. Nevada


Spend your days in Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine in Virgin Valley, Nevada and your nights on the Vegas strip. Rainbow Ridge is just over an hour away from the city that never sleeps. There are no services out there, so be sure to load up on snacks and gas before you go.

Opals that are worth as much as $50k have been unearthed at Rainbow Ridge. Bring your own tools, as there aren’t any provided. Then, dig deep to find those opals.

For a mere $700 a day, you can sift through virgin soil, “made to order.” Arrive by 8 am and the bulldozer will excavate a chunk of land for you to mine for opals.

Where in Vegas should a miner stay? The Golden Nugget, without a doubt. The casino and hotel is home to the 2nd largest piece of gold discovered. It weighs in at 61 lbs. and is on display at the Golden Nugget.

5. California


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Mine your own way at the Pala Chief Mine. An hour north of San Diego, this excavation only happens twice a month and reservations are required with at least a 48-hour advance notice.

Bring your own tools and scour, dig or pick your way through Chief Mountain. Lots of walking and some hiking uphill is involved in this one.
If hiking isn’t your thing, then visit the nearby OceanView Mine. It is open daily and offers tools and assistance in identifying your rocks. Find tourmalines, kunzites and more.
Stay at the gem, Fairmont Grand Del Mar and wind down in one of their 4 heated pools, take time for yourself at the spa and then head back for more mining.
Not into mining, but know someone who is? Dig For Gems offers gift certificates and souvenirs, too!