The 49 Outstanding Places To Find And Dig For Crystals In North Carolina In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 49 Outstanding Places To Find And Dig For Crystals In North Carolina In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


If you want to find breathtaking crystals, North Carolina is the place to be! It’s a real gem for crystal hunters, offering various crystals in its numerous mines and quarries. Our state is particularly known for its beautiful quartz crystals, which come in all shapes and sizes and range from clear to smoky to milky white.

Despite its abundance, finding crystals in North Carolina is like striking gold, so you have to know where to look. We’ll share with you the outstanding places to find crystals, from Mountain Mine to Spruce Pine and everything in between. Truly, you have plenty of opportunities to find the crystals of your dreams here!

How We Picked The Best Places To Find Crystals in North Carolina
We spent a lot of time determining which of the many options for digging and mining for crystals that we have available would be recommended. We wanted to have a good mix of locations for experienced and novice crystals hunters in a variety of settings. Here are the main factors we used when determining the recommendations we set out :

  • The extensive local experience and understanding of our team
  • Input from multiple local crystal hunters and crystal collecting groups
  • The accessibility of the crystal mining locations
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Private and public locations
  • A desire to include locations for both experienced crystal hunters and those who are just starting out

Using these weights we think we’ve put together the best list out there for those who love finding new crystals for our collections!

The Types of Crystals We Found

A rough aquamarine specimen
Aquamarine photo provided by and available for purchase at MillionYearsCrystal

The rich and diverse deposits of different crystals make rockhounding in North Carolina worth it. Below are some of the rare and common crystals you might encounter here:

Rare crystals found in North Carolina

  • Amazonite
  • Chrysocolla
  • Chrysoprase
  • Emerald
  • Fluorite
  • Hiddenite
  • Lepidolite
  • Opal
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Ruby
  • Sunstone
  • Unakite

More common crystals found here

  • Agate
  • Amethyst
  • Apatite
  • Aquamarine
  • Azurite
  • Beryl
  • Black Tourmaline
  • Calcite
  • Galena
  • Garnet
  • Jasper
  • Kyanite
  • Malachite
  • Moonstone
  • Muscovite
  • Petrified wood or fossils
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Serpentine

The Best Locations For Crystal Mining We’ve Found

A beautiful pink fluorite on muscovite
Fluorite with muscovite photo provided by Mineral Masterpiece

If you want to find crystals in our state, we highly recommend considering these locations first. We had the most success finding crystals in these areas, and we’re positive that you will, too.

Always Confirm Access and Collection Rules!

Before heading out to any of the locations on our list you need to confirm access requirements and collection rules for both public and private locations.

These requirements are subject to change without notice and may differ from what we state below.

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding.

Pee Dee River

Calm waters of the Pee Dee River foregrounded with tall trees

The Pee Dee River runs through the Uwharrie Mountains, a range as old as 500 million years. The area’s rich history in mining and gem hunting dates back to the 1800s.

The river’s course through the Uwharries means it’s surrounded by a diverse range of rocks and minerals. These mountains are primarily composed of metamorphic and igneous rocks, perfect for those seeking unique and valuable crystals.

The Pee Dee River is easily accessible from major cities like Charlotte and Raleigh. The best approach is to target public access points along the river, such as Morrow Mountain State Park or the Uwharrie National Forest.

Where we found crystals at the Pee Dee River

Exploring the tributaries and gravels of the Pee Dee River could give you a chance to find chalcedony and jasper.

Alexander County

A picturesque area in Alexander County where you can dig crystals

Packed with natural beauty and history, Alexander County is among the finest places where you can go gem hunting in North Carolina.

Geographically, it’s located in the western part of our state, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s known for its rolling hills, scenic countryside, and abundant natural resources. The county is also home to the Brushy Mountains, which are believed to be some of the oldest mountains in the world.

The area is rich in minerals, and it’s not uncommon to find beautiful specimens of quartz, amethyst, and other crystals while exploring its local mines and quarries. The Emerald Hollow Mine, located in Hiddenite, is one of the most popular places to hunt for gems and minerals.

Where we found crystals in Alexander County

Below are some of the best places where you can find crystals in this area:

  • The mines in the Hiddenite area, including the Rist Mine and Museum, Dagenhart Mine, and Emerald Hollow Mine, contain beryl, emerald, garnet, quartz, smoky quartz, and tourmaline crystals.
  • Aquamarines, beryls, emeralds, garnets, quartz, and tourmalines hide in loose soils around the town of Hiddenite and along the town’s creeks and rivers.
  • Farms in the Hiddenite area, including Charles Payne farm, Warren farm, and Osborne-Lackey farm, have apatite, aquamarine, beryl, calcite, emerald, hiddenite, muscovite, pyrite, quartz, and tourmaline.
  • The mine dumps of Hiddenite Mine at the Stony Point area contain emerald, smoky quartz, and black tourmaline crystals.
  • You can find beryl, chalcopyrite, muscovite, quartz, and tourmaline crystals around the Taylorsville area at the Brushy Mountains and headwaters of the South Yadkin River.

Rock pick being used

The tools every crystal hunter will need

When you're out looking for crystals having the right tools for the job is very important. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.

We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced crystal miners which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding equipment guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.

Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing. One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.

At a minimum you should have:

1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard

2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set

3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well

4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill

5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable

6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to

7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect

The crystal-finding books that we use most

There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America 

Southeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Southeastern Quadrant 

We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.

Mountain Mine

A wide area full of rocks and mountains at the Mountain Mine

Cleveland County, NC

Mountain Mine is famous for producing some of the world’s finest specimens of quartz crystals. It’s a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors to explore and discover the treasures hidden beneath it.

This mine is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, known for its rich mineral deposits. The area is home to various minerals, including feldspar, mica, and quartz.

The quartz crystals found in Mountain Mine are known for their clarity, size, and unique formations, making them highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts.

Where we found crystals at Mountain Mine

The Mountain Mine is abundant in galena, garnet, muscovite, pyrite, tourmaline, and quartz crystals around its vicinity. If you’re wondering how much crystal is worth, you can read our article with all the information you need about crystals.

Town of Franklin

A view of mountain ranges at an area in the town of Franklin

Macon County, NC

Founded in the early 1800s, the town of Franklin was named after Benjamin Franklin, and it played a key role in the region’s development as a center for mining and agriculture. Today, it’s known for its picturesque downtown area, vibrant arts scene, and proximity to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in our state.

It’s situated in the heart of the Nantahala National Forest, known for its rugged terrain and abundant natural resources. It’s also famous for its mineral deposits, which include some of the most beautiful specimens of rubies and sapphires in the world.

Where we found crystals in the Town of Franklin

The area mines prospect and diggings around Franklin offer various stunning crystals, including amethyst, epidote, garnet, jasper, kyanite, quartz, rhodochrosite, ruby, and sapphire.

Ray Mica Mine

An area at Ray Mica Mine filled with various rocks and trees

Yancey County, NC

The Ray Mica Mine is a historic site that has played an important role in our state’s mining industry. It was first opened in the early 1900s and was known for its mica production, which was used in various industrial applications.

This mine is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, known for its rich mineral deposits. It’s home to various rocks and minerals, including some of the world’s largest and most impressive specimens of mica.

If you pay a visit here, the mine offers guided tours that will allow you to explore the tunnels and discover the beauty of its crystals up close. The area around the mine is also home to many other natural wonders, including waterfalls, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks.

Where we found crystals at the Ray Mica Mine

Ray Mica Mine is a source of amazonite, apatite, aquamarine, beryl, emerald, fluorite, garnet, kyanite, muscovite, smoky quartz, sunstone, and tourmaline.

Spruce Pine

A scenic view of a waterfall surrounded by vibrants trees and a river full of rocks

Spruce Pine is a small town with a big reputation for its mineral resources. It was founded in the late 1800s and was named after the abundant spruce trees that once grew there.

Throughout its history, Spruce Pine has been a center for mining and agriculture, and it’s still known today for its rich deposits of minerals and gems. When you get here, you can look for different types of crystals and other gems in its numerous mines and quarries.

Where we found crystals at Spruce Pine

We had the best luck locating crystals like amazonite, aquamarine, beryl, emerald, garnet, and moonstone at several mines around Spruce Pine.

My Other Favorite Places For Crystal Hunting

Blue-bladed kyanite crystals grouping
Kyanite photo provided by Weinrich Minerals

Aside from crystals, you can also find geodes in North Carolina. But if your eyes are on the crystals alone, there are other options besides the specific places we’ve recommended above.

Where you can find crystals for free

Here are the outstanding sites where you can search and dig for crystals without paying anything:

County Location
Alamance General county wide surfaces for serpentine
Alamance The area fields, cuts, streams, and loose in soils at a farm in Burlington for quartz
Ashe Creeks, rivers, and pegmatites at Blue Ridge for chalcopyrite, epidote, garnet, muscovite, and black tourmaline
Avery The Bill Burleson farm at Elk Park for moonstone
Buncombe In gravels of Crane Creek and Reams Creek for calcite, garnet, and hematite
Buncombe At the Lookout Mountain area, Pisgah Mountain, and Dude Ranch for chrysoprase, kyanite, and sapphire
Burke In the area of High Peak and gravels of Hall and Silver Creek for epidote, diamond, garnet, hematite, and tourmaline
Cabarrus The area stream gravels and fields of Harrisburg for agate, carnelian, and chalcedony
Catawba Hooper’s Quarry for calcite and pyrite
Chatham At the Bear Creek for azurite, calcite, chalcopyrite, chrysocolla, galena, malachite, and pyrite
Cherokee At the areas of Hanging Dog Creek and Vengeance Creek for agate, epidote, jasper, and smoky quartz
Clay The Amphibole area exposures and Penland Bald area for garnet, ruby, and sapphire
Cumberland Stream gravels and alluvials deposits, excavations, road cuts, gravel pits, and road cuts throughout the county for agate, chalcedony, jasper, and opal
Davidson Conrad Hill Mine and Silver Hill for calcite, chalcopyrite, galena, malachite, and hematite
Gaston Along Little Beaver Dam and Beaver Dam creek for apatite, beryl, garnet, pyrite, quartz, and tourmaline
Iredell Statesville area for agate, amethyst, citrine, quartz, sapphire, and tourmaline
Macon In gravels of Burningtown Creek for sapphire
Stokes Area stream gravels of Danbury for agate, amethyst, carnelian, chalcedony, jasper, hematite, and opal
Warren Fowler Farm for beryl, lepidolite, and quartz
Watauga Elk Knob for azurite, calcite, garnet, epidote, malachite, and pyrite

Some crystals share lots of traits that make them harder to tell apart, so we’ve created an article you can use to distinguish between crystals that can easily be mixed up:

Other great places to dig for crystals

If you don’t mind spending a dollar to find crystals, here are some of the locations you might want to consider exploring. Be aware that their prices may change depending on the season.

County Location
Alleghany Bullhead Mountain area mines and Peach Bottom mine dumps for chalcopyrite, galena, malachite, and pyrite
Ashe Copper Knob Mine, Duncan Mica Mine, Ore Knob, South Hardin Mica Mine, and Walnut Knob Minefor aquamarine, beryl, calcite, chalcopyrite, chrysocolla, epidote, hematite, malachite, muscovite, and pyrite
Avery Birch Mine, Cranberyy Iron Mine, Elk Mica Mine, Meadows Mine, Old Elk Mine, and Plumtree Mine for epidote, garnet, hematite, kyanite, moonstone, and unakite
Buncombe Blue Ridge Parkway and Goldsmith Mine for aquamarine, chalcedony, garnet, kyanite, and moonstone
Burke Area mines of Brown Mountain, Scott’s Hill, Shoup’s Ford, South Mountain, Sugar Mountain, Tremont Mountain, and Walker’s Knob for aquamarine, beryl, chrysoprase, diamond, epidote, fluorite, garnet, hematite, kyanite, pyrite, quartz, smoky quartz, and tourmaline
Cabarrus Cullin’s Mine, Harkey Mine, Rocky River Mine, and many area mines in the county for agate, azurite, chalcopyrite, galena, malachite, pyrite, quartz, rhodochrosite, and tourmaline
Cleveland Foote Mineral Co. Mine, Mauney Carpenter Mine, and Norman Mine for apatite, beryl, calcite, garnet, moonstone, quartz, rhodochrosite, and tourmaline
Davidson Silver Valley Mine for chalcopyrite, galena, and pyrite
Guildford Gardner Mine and Mills Hill Mine for chalcopyrite, chrysocolla, hematite, malachite, and pyrite
Henderson Freeman Mine for apatite, epidote, and garnet
Jackson Sheepcliff Mineand Wolf Creek Mine for aquamarine, beryl, chalcopyrite, chrysocolla, garnet, malachite, and quartz
Michell Buchanan Mine and Sinkhole Mine for apatite, beryl, garnet, kyanite, and muscovite
Yancey Young’s Mine for garnet, muscovite, pyrite, serpentine, and tremolite

My tips for finding crystals

Three pieces of raw moonstone with blue flashes
Moonstone photo provided by stoneary

Many of our suggested places cover broader areas, so we’ve listed some of the areas you can prioritize looking into to narrow your search. These areas typically contain a variety of crystals and other common rocks and minerals:

Mine and mine dumps

One of the best things about searching in mines and mine dumps is the potential to find rare and unique specimens. These areas are often home to crystals and minerals that are not commonly found in other locations.

In addition, the conditions in mines and mine dumps can create unusual formations and color variations in the crystals, making each find a true treasure.


Roadcuts are man-made cliffs or slopes created by constructing roads or highways. These areas expose layers of rock and soil that would otherwise be hidden, allowing you to explore areas not disturbed by natural erosion or weathering.

One of the benefits of searching in roadcuts is that they are often located in accessible and easy-to-reach areas, making them ideal for beginners or those who may not be able to venture too far off the beaten path.

Streams and creeks

Searching for crystals in streams and creeks is also a great idea. These areas can be rich in crystals eroded from nearby rocks and deposited in the streambed. The crystals found here are often in their natural state.

An additional advantage of searching in streams and creeks is that they are often located in beautiful and remote areas, making the experience even more rewarding.

The Mining Laws And Regulations You Should Know

North Carolina has regulations for recreational crystal hunting to ensure its protection for future generations.

Collecting rocks, minerals, and gemstones on state or federal lands without the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources‘ permission is prohibited.

You can only collect limited rocks, minerals, and gemstones for personal use. The specific limit varies depending on the location and the type of material being collected, so it’s important to check the regulations for the area you are visiting.

It’s also important to leave the area as you found it. This means filling in any holes or pits you dug and leaving any natural features undisturbed.

The Best Crystal Shops In The Area

Many crystals can be found and purchased at Elijah Mountain Gem Mine in North Carolina.

If you prefer to purchase specific crystals that will complete or provide more variety to your collection, we’ve listed some of our favorite crystal shops:

Additional places to find crystals in nearby states

If you’ve already tried all of our recommendations above or are planning a trip out of the state, you should check out our guides for neighboring states:

If you have any recommendations we haven’t covered please leave them in the comments below!

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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