Public Gold & Gem Mines in Idaho

Emerald Creek Star Garnet Area

Idaho’s Panhandle National Forests is the only location in the United States that the star garnets can be found. These garnets are Idaho’s state gem, and they are exceptionally beautiful gems that have an interesting feature which causes 4 or 6 point reflective stars on their surface.

Northern Idaho is one of only two locations in the world where significant amounts of this rare gem can be found.

The Emerald Creek Star Garnet Area provides a fantastic experience for rockhounds to sift for their very own specimens of this rare gem. It is a good idea to set aside several hours for digging, and many people stay the whole day. For a small fee, you can keep up to 5 pounds of garnets for your own use. Star garnets make some spectacular gems to be used in jewelry.

The maximum number of visitors per visit is only restricted to 170, so you may want to call ahead and make sure there is room for you prior to visiting.

This digging site is managed by the St. Joe Ranger District Forest Service in St. Maries. Contact them for the latest information on digging for garnets at the Emerald Creek Area.

Eagle City Park

In northern Idaho, there is a great opportunity for gold prospectors. The Eagle City Park is a privately-owned area in the Coeur d’Alene Forest located near the historic mining towns of Murray and Eagle Creek.

This is a great opportunity for gold prospectors to pan for gold. This site is managed by Gold Fever Mining Supply, and there is abundance of activities that you can do here in this beautiful part of Idaho. When you start your search for gold, you will find 2000 feet of access along the Eagle Creek where you can try gold panning, sluicing, sniping, and metal detecting.

You will see evidence of historic mining throughout the valley.

Read More about Mining in Murray, Idaho

You can rent or purchase mining equipment while you are here, or you are welcome to bring your own gear. There are also opportunities for camping, as well as many other outdoor activities that you can enjoy in the surrounding Coeur d’Alene National Forest. The nearby town of Murray is a great little mining town that you will enjoy exploring as well.

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Spencer Opal Mines

Rockhounds and mineral collectors throughout the northwest enjoy visiting the famous Spencer Opal Mine. This is the only commercial opal mine in Idaho that is open to the public for the opportunity for folks to search for their very own opals.

Spencer opals are of exceptional quality and are known around the world. For a very reasonable fee, you can dig here. You can collect up to one pound of opal specimens, with any amount collected over one pound you can purchase for an additional cost.

Whether you have opal mining before, or you are just learning how to dig, nothing beats the feeling of uncovering one of these beautiful pieces of gems!

You can dig for just a few hours or all day if you like. Make sure that you are wearing proper clothing, boots, and eye protection when you explore the mine. Digging tools are not provided, so you will need to bring your own gear.

The mine is located in the small town of Spencer, Idaho. Make it to Spencer, and you will have no difficulty finding the mine.

Also Read: Gold Prospecting Areas in Idaho

And: The Historic Mining Town of Silver City

Public Lands in Idaho

It should really be noted that Idaho is nicknamed the “Gem State” for good reason. There are a huge variety of different gems located in all corners of the state. In addition, Idaho has huge amounts of public land managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that are open to mineral collecting and gold prospecting. If you do your research you might get lucky and find a place of your very own to explore.