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9 Best Places to Dig and Find Crystals in the USA + Useful Tips

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Discovering and unearthing your own crystals can be an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned crystal collector or a complete novice, you can immerse yourself in this captivating hobby and expand your crystal collection by exploring locations that cater specifically to crystal enthusiasts. Here are the top 9 places to dig for crystals in the United States:

  • Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas
  • Emerald Hollow Mine, North Carolina
  • Jade Cove, California
  • Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine, North Carolina
  • Herkimer Diamond Mines, New York
  • Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine, Nevada
  • Graves Mountain, Georgia
  • Douglas Lake, Tennessee
  • Sunstone Knoll, Utah

Numerous opportunities are available if you’re eager to find and excavate your crystals. Some parks and tourist attractions cater specifically to those searching for precious stones. Alternatively, you can explore locations that may not be part of a designated park but still have a high probability of yielding crystals. To discover more about where to begin your crystal hunting adventure, continue reading below.

How to Know Where to Dig and Find Crystals
How to Know Where to Dig and Find Crystals?

If you want to check out the best rockhounding tools, you can find them here (Amazon link).

Recreational Gem Mining Locations are Great for Crystal Enthusiasts

For those who prefer not to venture out alone and sift through rocks in unfamiliar territory, there are, fortunately, some excellent alternatives that allow you to hunt for your own crystals in areas already known to be abundant with what you’re seeking.

Recreational gem mining has been steadily gaining popularity. As a result, numerous sites are now open to tourists and gem enthusiasts that allow you to dig for your own crystals.

These locations offer a more structured and guided experience, ensuring you can find the crystals you desire without the uncertainty and potential risks of exploring unknown areas.

Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas

As one of the few locations in the world where the public can search for real diamonds, Crater of Diamonds is a unique opportunity for anyone wanting to hunt for crystals.

The park encompasses a 37-acre field that is the remnant of an ancient volcanic crater. Visitors are welcome to bring their own digging equipment, provided that it isn’t battery-operated or motor-powered. Alternatively, you can rent tools directly from the park for your crystal-hunting adventure. Crystal-hunting

As per the Crater of Diamonds State Park, since its opening to the public in 1972, visitors have discovered an impressive total of over 33,100 diamonds within the park’s grounds.

This remarkable figure is a testament to the park’s rich geological history and its enduring appeal to those passionate about unearthing their precious gems. With the right tools and persistence, you could join the ranks of the lucky visitors who have struck diamonds at this one-of-a-kind destination.

The largest diamond found there was the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam, which was found in 1924. More recently 2015, a tourist found an 8.52-carat diamond, so you may still have a chance of unearthing a real treasure at this state park.

You can explore the park by simply hunting for gems on the surface, digging and sifting soil a few inches deep, or digging deeper holes and strategically searching.

While you aren’t guaranteed to find a diamond, there are plenty of other small crystals, like quartz, that you can walk away with.

The park has a small entry fee but includes other amenities such as hiking trails, several camping sites, a gift shop, a seasonal water park, and a cafe.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in Arkansas.

Emerald Hollow Mine in North Carolina

Nestled in Hiddenite, North Carolina, the Emerald Hollow Mine is currently the only emerald mine in the world open to the public to search for gems. While the mine may have emerald in the name, it boasts more than sixty different types of naturally occurring gems and minerals, so it is a great place to start your quest for crystals.

Some of the more rare gems and minerals that are found at Emerald Hollow Mine include:

  • Emerald
  • Amethyst
  • Aquamarine
  • Citrine
  • Sapphire
  • Garnet
  • Rutile
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline

There are also loads of both smokey and clear quartz crystals. If you’re feeling lucky, you may unearth some truly rare specimens. As recently as 2009, two men found a massive 310-carat emerald that has been dubbed the Carolina Emperor.

The park is open from 8:30 am to sunset every day of the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

You can choose your method of searching, whether it be sluicing, creaking, digging, or a combination of the three. They also have a lapidary shop on the premises that can help turn rough stones into polished gems and jewelry if desired.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in North Carolina.

Jade Cove in California

Jade Cove is a unique location on this list because it is not part of a commercialized operation. You don’t need to pay an entry fee or rent any equipment. You can come and go as you please, but it may be a little more challenging than the previous sites mentioned.

Located as part of the stretch of the Big Sur coastline, it can be easy to miss Jade Cove. The trail to reach it is steep but fairly short, and it is known for its remarkable green cliffs.

As the name implies, Jade Cove is rich in jade. It has nephrite and jadeite, including several rare types of jade, such as botryoidal jade.

Most of the best jade is inaccessible to casual crystal hunters as it is hidden under the ocean waves, and the currents in this region are very strong, so only skilled divers can reach it.

However, waves will often wash pieces of jade onshore, and during low tide periods, it is not uncommon to find some of the stone.

If you decide to visit Jade Cove to prospect, keep in mind that local laws place restrictions on your search.

For example, visitors are prohibited from excavating or digging, and you are not allowed to collect anything deposited above the mean tide line.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in California.

TIP: Jade is the most valuable gemstone in Asian culture. The combination of jade’s history and magnificent appearance makes the stone so valuable and popular. Find out more in the article below:
6 Factors Why Jade is Valuable (+ Prices for Colors & More)

Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine in North Carolina

Located in the Cowee Valley gemstone region of Western North Carolina, the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine is listed by the International Gem Society as one of the “Top Places to Mine in the United States.”

The mine is particularly notable for having a rare type of ruby known as a pigeon-blood ruby, which is only otherwise found in Burma. Other stones that can be found at the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine include:

  • Star rubies
  • Star sapphires
  • Star garnets
  • Rhodolite garnets
  • Pyrope garnets
  • Moonstone
  • Rutile
  • Sillimanite
  • Kyanite
  • Corundum
  • Clear Quartz
  • Smokey quartz

You will sluice through the rocks and soil with a sieve to find your treasures at this mine. The admission fee is fairly low, and the set-up encourages family or group prospecting. You search through buckets of soil rather than searching along the ground itself.

In addition, the Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire mine doesn’t “salt” the soil like some other mines. “Salting” refers to the practice of stocking the soil with outside gems to be more appealing to visitors.

Instead, the soil is completely natural, and whatever you find truly came from the region and isn’t an artificial discovery.

Herkimer Diamond Mines in New York

Tucked away in St. Johnsville, the Herkimer Diamond Mines are a great place to hunt for crystals. It is specifically known for its abundance of Herkimer diamonds, which, despite the name, are not actually diamonds but instead a type of quartz.

However, the crystal-clear clarity of the stones makes them reminiscent of diamonds, and they are still a very popular find among crystal enthusiasts.

The mines are above surface mines, meaning you can easily search along the ground’s surface if you like or dig deeper if desired. Often, it is handy to have a hammer or chisel because many of the crystals are found by breaking open larger rocks.

You can keep everything you find, and the Herkimer Diamond Mines also has a “Build and Wear, Build to Share” activity center where you can transform your crystal finds into jewellery.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in New York.

Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine in Nevada

The Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine has been family-owned and operated in Virgin Valley, Nevada, since 1949. It specializes in opals, and the colours can vary from completely colourless to black. The Roebling Opal, which is currently in a collection at the Smithsonian Institution, was found at the Rainbow Ridge Mine in 1918.

The opals most commonly found in this region are referred to as “specimen only,” meaning that they aren’t suitable for being cut into jewellery and are left uncut. However, these opals can make a fine addition to any crystal collection, and their colour variations are unique and beautiful.

Opals have an underlying body colour but then have a varying level of transparency, which results in the stones being able to play with light and display shifts in colour. It gives the stones a shimmering quality and an opalescence.

Take note: if you are specifically a fan of fire opals, then the Bonanza Opal Mines in Denio, Nevada, is another great place to search.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in Nevada.

Graves Mountain in Georgia

Graves Mountain is located in Lincolnton, Georgia, and is famous for being used as a mining location by Tiffany’s in the 1920s for finding rutile.

Now, you can visit the mountain to search for your crystal collection, but you need an appointment to visit. Also, only members of the Georgia Mineral Society are allowed to dig year-round. Those who aren’t members may only dig on a few select days in the year, but it is a free event.

The wait may be worth it, however, since the mountain is known to be rich in desirable minerals. Some gems that have been found there include:

  • Hematite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Muscovite
  • Barite
  • Ilmenite

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in Georgia.

Douglas Lake in Tennessee

While a zinc vein in middle Tennessee makes crystal hunting between Carthage and Nashville highly satisfying, you might consider a winter trip to Douglas Lake in eastern Tennessee for your rockhounding expedition.

The water level in the man-made reservoir drops during the colder season to improve your chances of finding “Douglas Diamonds.”

These are not real diamonds, though. They are quartz crystals similar in clarity and quality to the Herkimer Diamonds of New York (see above).

Your best chance of finding them is to walk the lake bed looking for floats of red clay. There’s actually an app from the Tennessee Valley Authority for rockhounds who want to know when the lake levels are low enough to hunt.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in Tennessee.

Sunstone Knoll in Utah

Located in Millard Country, Utah, Sunstone Knoll is home to, as the name suggests, sunstones. Though small, you can easily gather a handful of these glittery, transparent, golden-toned crystals just walking along with the land.

For larger crystal finds, you can bring your rock hammer (and protective eyewear, of course) to search through the cavities of volcanic rock.

TIP: Check out this article for a complete rockhounding guide in Utah.

State Mining and Mineral Departments Can Be a Good Resource

If you’re searching for crystals and unsure where to start, use the resources available from state mining and mineral departments.

These departments can provide a trove of useful information and can help guide you in your search. Most states will have these divisions and details about what gems and minerals are currently mined in your region.

Sometimes, these departments will have maps of current and abandoned mining operations. If the mine is inactive, you are usually free to explore the terrain and claim any crystals you may find.

Mining operations typically unearth large amounts of crystals, and since the mining is usually in pursuit of a particular mineral or metal, these crystals are discarded and ignored. If you visit these old mining sites, you may find substantial crystals in piles throughout the mine.

Keep in mind, however, that if you visit these sites, you should not attempt to go into any mining tunnels. These can be extremely dangerous, and you should not venture into them as you cannot know whether they are safe.

Even if your region has no abandoned mining sites, you can still utilize the information provided by state mineral departments to determine the best places to look for crystals.

Mineral departments will often provide geological maps of the state, and you can identify locations that contain rocks such as granite or pegmatite that are more likely to yield crystals.

TIP: Alluvial deposits along rivers and creeks are brilliant places for rockhounding. Check out the best rockhounding tips for finding rocks near rivers and creeks in the article below:
8 Tips On Finding Gemstones In Nature (Rivers & Creeks)

Certain Gems and Crystals are Commonly Found Around Hot Springs

Another location that often yields crystals is around hot springs and hydrothermal springs. The hydrothermal activity in these locations can form several different types of crystals and minerals. As the hot water pushes its way to the surface, it often brings along a variety of crystals.

If you are visiting a hot springs area, look for crystals such as opal, agate, and amethyst, which are usually more common in these regions. Other gemstones that may be found around hydrothermal deposits include emerald, tourmaline, and beryl.

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

Areas With Volcanic Activity May Have Crystals

Volcanic activity can result in crystal formation, both directly and indirectly. So, if you have access to a region that has some volcanic activity, you may be able to find some crystals in the area.

A specific type of magma called Kimberlite is rich in minerals, including some valuable crystals, and can deposit this rich igneous rock on the surface.

Kimberlite has been known to include olivine, apatite, chromite, garnet, and even diamond. In fact, Kimberlite takes its name from Kimberley, South Africa, a region rich in diamonds.

Any region that has seen molten magma will likely have obsidian present. Obsidian is a natural volcanic glass, and it is known for its shiny black colour.

While it technically isn’t a crystal (it actually contains minimal crystal growth), its appearance often makes it appealing to crystal collectors. It has a glossy sheen, and its colour can range from deep black to red, brown, green, purple, and even rainbow varieties.

Other gems that may be found in areas with volcanic activity include zircon, topaz, and ruby. Pegmatite deposits in the area often yield large, good-quality crystals.

TIP: Obsidian is among the most prized rocks in their collections that all rockhounds want to have. But where to find obsidian? Check out the locations in the USA in the article below:
Finding Obsidian: 6 Best Locations Near Me (United States)

How Do You Know Where to Dig for Crystals?

How Do You Know Where to Dig for Crystals?
How Do You Know Where to Dig for Crystals?

We have dug into (no pun intended) a few specific places to mine for crystals and suggestions to find areas with potential.

But let’s take a moment to talk specifically about how you determine where to search for crystals once you’ve gotten to the mining location. Why are some areas richer in gems than other areas? What makes for a good crystal-digging location?

Certain crystals will occur naturally in a much greater abundance than others, especially if you look in the right areas. For example, quartz crystal is the second most common mineral on Earth, so it is easy to find it in your search.

However, finding it in large, good-quality specimens is more challenging. If you take the time to search in certain areas, you will have a better chance of finding ideal crystals.

One place to dig for crystals like quartz is in rock veins. Veins are deposits of minerals that course through a rock, filling cracks and fissures in a way that makes the minerals look like veins running through the host rock.

If you find a few crystals on the ground, look to nearby rock formations to see if any veins are present. Crystals can be carried a fair distance thanks to forces of nature, so the original vein might be far from where the crystals are found.

Generally speaking, a location with a fair amount of crystals on the soil’s surface is a good place to start looking.

The larger the crystals on the surface are, the more likely you are to find more crystals with a little digging. Sometimes, the crystals won’t be readily visible on the surface. In this case, digging a few test holes to see if a layer of crystals is lying beneath the topsoil can be helpful.

If you see areas containing rocks with flat sides, this may indicate that crystals have formed there. Certain types of rocks are also more likely to yield crystals, so if you find areas containing these rocks, there is a better chance that you’ll walk away with some crystals:

  • Pegmatite
  • Microcline
  • Diorite
  • Granite
  • Gabbro
  • Peridotite

TIP: Geodes are not simple crystals but small geological models – a tiny cave in your hands. Check out the most common crystals you can find in geodes in the article below:
16 Most Common Types of Crystals You Can Find in Geodes

Look for Rocks That Commonly Form Crystals

Certain rocks are more likely to yield crystals, so if you can locate areas with large deposits of these rocks, you will have a better chance of finding quality crystals.

For those not wanting to visit specific mining sites, this can be a great way to determine your own location to start your search for crystals.


Granite rocks are often a good bet for crystal hunters. Granite is an igneous rock that tends to be light in colour coarse, and grainy. They have a high silica content and a mixed mineral composition, often making the rock a speckled colour.

Granite is the most common igneous rock found at the Earth’s surface, so no matter where you live, it is likely that you’ve seen granite at some point in your life. It is also commonly used in buildings and monuments.

Most granite has very small crystals present, but there are sometimes pockets of larger crystal deposits in which you can find some quality crystals. The crystals you are most likely to find in granite are:

  • Quartzes
  • Plagioclase feldspars
  • Potassium feldspars
  • Hornblendes
  • Muscovite micas
  • Biotite micas
  • Lepidolite micas

In addition, you may be lucky to find rarer gemstones in granite, such as:

  • Tourmaline
  • Beryl
  • Topaz
  • Zircon
  • Apatite

However, these gemstones are much less commonly found, and it is unlikely you will find them if you are only occasionally hunting for crystals or don’t have the proper amount of skill and expertise to locate them.


Pegmatite is another coarse, grainy igneous rock. Pegmatite is an extremely igneous rock because it contains especially large crystals, including fairly rare minerals.

To be called pegmatite, a rock must be mostly composed of crystals at least one centimeter in diameter. The actual mineral composition of the rock is not important for classification.

Because of the way pegmatite is formed, it can contain extremely large crystals. For example, in South Dakota, a pegmatite yielded a spodumene crystal that was 42 feet long and 5 feet in diameter.

While you probably won’t stumble upon a crystal this large in your search, you’re still highly likely to find some substantial crystals.

Pegmatite is often rich in quartz, feldspar, and mica crystals. They also can be sources of desirable gemstones such as:

  • Amazonite
  • Apatite
  • Aquamarine
  • Beryl
  • Chrysoberyl
  • Emerald
  • Garnet
  • Goshenite
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline
  • Zircon


Another igneous rock, gabbro, is dark and grainy, usually black or dark green in colour. The crystals present in gabbro tend to be granular in size but are larger than the crystals present in basalt and tend to be over 1mm in size.

Unlike granite and pegmatite, gabbro rarely includes deposits of quartz. Most commonly, gabbro has a high percentage of plagioclase feldspar crystals. Gabbo can also contain pyroxene, olivine, and amphibole.

TIP: You may be wondering where your gemstone was originally found. Like gabbro, the most inorganic gemstones form in the Earth’s crust (the outermost layer). Find out more in the article below:
Which Gemstones Come From The Ocean? Corals, Pearls, & more!


Diorite is an igneous rock that has a composition that falls somewhere between granite and basalt. It is often found in locations where the edge of an oceanic plate is forced beneath the adjacent edge of a continental plate.

It commonly has a “salt and pepper” appearance, with a mix of black and white mineral components.

Like gabbro, diorite rarely includes quartz crystals. However, it usually has a fair amount of the following crystals:

  • Plagioclase
  • Horniblend
  • Biotite
  • Pyroxene

Diorite is sometimes polished and used as a gemstone itself. A specific diorite with pink feldspar phenocrysts in Australia is frequently cut into cabochons and sold as “pink marshmallow stone.”


Peridotite is a group of dark-coloured igneous rocks typically containing olivine as the main mineral composition. They have a relatively low silica content, so it is rare to find quartz crystals within them, but they are prized for containing other rarer elements.

In addition to particular crystals, peridotites are considered valuable because they often contain chromite. Chromite is the only mineable source of chromium, an extremely useful element used in metal and many chemicals and manufactured products.

As far as crystals, peridotite often has fair amounts of the following:

  • Pyroxene
  • Garnet
  • Spinel
  • Hornblende

Perhaps most notable, however, is that peridotite has often been known to contain diamonds. If you’re lucky, your search for crystals may just end with you finding a literal diamond in the rough!

Final Thoughts

Whether you are a dedicated rockhound or just a casual prospector looking to add a few crystals to your collection, there are several options for you to find your own crystals.

Finding and digging your own crystals can be incredibly satisfying and rewarding, and who knows: if you’re really lucky, you might uncover some very valuable and rare gems.

TIP: It is always good to know if it is allowed to dig for rocks in a given place. Because it is illegal sometimes. Find out more about this important topic in this article:
Is it illegal to take rocks from nature? You Should Know This