The 19 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Alabama In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 19 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Alabama In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Alabama is a treasure trove of gems and minerals, offering a unique experience to those who are interested in gem mining. While our state is known for its lush green forests and white sandy beaches, its hidden gem mining sites offer a unique adventure and the chance to find some of the rarest gems in the world. From the Star Blue Quartz found in the Flint River, to the Tourmaline and Garnets found in the Sipsey Wilderness, Alabama is a gem hunter’s paradise!

Whether you’re a novice or a professional, you can explore the state’s many gem mining sites, searching for rare and valuable stones, and perhaps even discovering a hidden gem of your own. With a little luck and the right equipment, you can do gem hunting to find your own treasure in the wilds of this state.

How We Picked The Best Places For Gem Mining in Alabama
In order to find the absolute best places in Alabama for gem mining, we had to consider a lot of things. It can be really tough to find good information, so it took us a long time to put together a solid list like the one below. The main inputs to our recommendations are as follows:

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

Overall, we’ve been able to put together a great list that anyone can use to locate a lot of beautiful gems.

The Gemstones Found In Alabama You Can Mine

A rare gem Beryl found while gem mining in Alabama

Alabama is extremely privileged to have magnificent gems that can be extracted from its land. Not every state can boast of such a fortune! If you have the knowledge of the places to explore and a bit of luck, you can find the rare and more common gemstones here.

Rare gemstones found in Alabama

  • Beryl
  • Onyx
  • Star Blue Quartz
  • Tourmaline

More common gemstones found here

  • Agate
  • Albite
  • Apatite
  • Aquamarine
  • Calcite
  • Cassiterite
  • Chalcedony
  • Epidote
  • Feldspar
  • Garnet
  • Jasper
  • Kyanite
  • Microcline
  • Moonstone
  • Pyrrhotite
  • Quartzite
  • Rhodolite
  • Siderite
  • Sillimanite
  • Sphalerite
  • Talc
  • Topaz
  • Vivianite

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining In Alabama

We rounded up the best places to go gem mining for those of you who are interested in getting started on it. And since gem mining is a fun activity for adults and kids alike, we prepared recommendations of locations that adults would love and places that kids would undoubtedly enjoy.

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.

Millsite Tin Mine

A beautiful Topaz found while gem hunting at the Millsite Tin Mine

Rockford, AL 35136, United States

Millsite Tin Mine is a historic tin mining site located in Clay County. The mine was established in the late 1800s and operated for about three decades. It is believed to have been one of the most productive tin mines in the southeastern United States during its time of operation.

The mine was abandoned in the early 1920s, but its remains can still be seen today. The site includes a large open pit, several buildings, and a network of tunnels and shafts. It has been designated as a historic landmark by the state and is open for exploration and educational purposes.

The Types of Gems Found In The Millsite Tin Mine

There are a variety of gems in this location that are unique here, which is why this mine is highly popular. Most of the gems you can find here are:

  • Albite
  • Apatite
  • Cassiterite
  • Epidote
  • Garnet
  • Sillimanite
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Millsite Tin Mine

The best time to visit the Millsite Tin Mine is during the summer months of May-August. The weather is generally warm and sunny during this time, making it a great time to explore the area. Additionally, there are fewer crowds and better access to the mine during this season.

Rock pick being used

The tools every gem hunter will need

When you're out looking for gems it's very important that you bring the right tools with you. 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 gem miners which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools 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 gem-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.

Hog Mountain

A stunning Pyrrhotite found at Hog Mountain

Hog Mountain, AL 35010, United States

Hog Mountain is located in the eastern part of the state, near the Georgia border. It is the highest point in the state, reaching an elevation of 663 feet. The mountain was named for its popularity as a hunting ground for wild hogs during colonial times.

Today, Hog Mountain is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to take in its natural beauty and stunning views from atop its peak. It’s also visited by rockhounds who are aiming to find exquisite Alabama crystals.

The Types of Gems Found In The Hog Mountain

There are different gems that can be found in the area, but these are the most abundant of them:

  • Pyrrhotite
  • Sphalerite

The Best Time To Visit Hog Mountain

The best time to visit Hog Mountain is during the spring or fall season. During these times, temperatures are mild and the weather is usually sunny and pleasant. The cooler temperatures make it easier to explore the park’s trails and observe wildlife. The summer months can be very hot and humid, so it is best to avoid visiting Hog Mountain during this time of year.

Gold Mines Creek

An intricate Microline gem found at the Gold Mines Creek

Clay County, AL 36266, United States

Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the Gold Mines Creek has been an important source of gold since the 19th century. Today, it is still an important source of gold for recreational prospectors who use metal detectors or sluice boxes to search for small amounts of flakes or nuggets that may be present in stream beds or banks along its course.

The Types of Gems Found In The Gold Mines Creek

Aside from Gold, you can also find a number of gems while gem hunting in the area. But this place is most well-known for:

  • Albite
  • Apatite
  • Beryl
  • Microcline
  • Rhodolite
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Gold Mines Creek

The best time to visit Gold Mines Creek is during the summer months from June through August. During these months, temperatures are warm but not too hot and humidity levels are low. It is also the peak season for fishing and other outdoor activities in the area.

Majestic Caverns – Great for kids

Kids enjoying gemstone panning at Majestic Caverns

5181 Desoto Caverns Pkwy, Childersburg, AL 35044, United States

Majestic Caverns is an underground cave system that has been open to the public since the 1930s. The caves are part of the Talladega National Forest and offer a unique opportunity to explore a subterranean world. The caverns provide a variety of activities, such as cave tours, gemstone mining, and spelunking. When you visit here, you can also explore a network of passages that feature incredible rock formations and colorful stalactites and stalagmites.

The Types of Gems Found In The Majestic Caverns

In addition to other semiprecious stones, the Majestic Caverns also boasts of having the following gems:

  • Onyx
  • Pyrite

The Best Time To Visit Majestic Caverns

The best time to visit Majestic Caverns is during the spring and fall months. The summer months can be hot and humid, while winter months may be too cold. But the temperature during spring and fall is mild and comfortable, making it the perfect time to explore the underground cave system.

Cathedral Caverns State Park – Great for kids

Kids having fun and learning while gem panning at the Cathedral Caverns State Park

637 Cave Road Woodville, AL 35776, United States

Cathedral Caverns State Park is home to one of the most spectacular cave systems in the United States and offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore an underground wonderland. The cave system features some of the largest stalagmites and stalactites in the world, as well as an impressive array of other natural formations.

You can explore this subterranean wonderland on a guided tour or by taking part in one of the many special events held at the park throughout the year.

The Types of Gems Found In The Cathedral Caverns State Park

There are a lot of different gems that you can find when you try gem hunting here, but it is going to vary a lot depending on when you go. Kids will have fun identifying the different gems they will find in the gem panning activity using the gemstone identification display of the area.

The Best Time To Visit Cathedral Caverns State Park

The best time to visit Cathedral Caverns State Park is during the warmer months of April through October. During this time, the weather is mild and ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the cave. The park also offers a variety of programs and events throughout the year, so make sure to check their website link above for more information.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Alabama

A delicate-looking Feldspar found while gem hunting in Alabama

Aside from our favorite gem hunting spots, there are other remarkable locations for real gem mining in the state. We have created a list of places where adults, who want to do real gem hunting, can visit.

  • Near Pond Mine – Feldspar, Garnet, Moonstone, Quartz, Tourmaline
  • Flint River – Star Blue Quartz, Citrine, Jasper
  • Pudding Stone (this is a private property, but you can ask permission to do gem mining) – Jasper, Chalcedony
  • Shirley Mine – Garnet, Kyanite, Magnetite, Tourmaline
  • Buzzard Creek & Tributaries – Chlorite, Green Quartz
  • Bob Lee Mine – Garnets
  • Black Warrior River – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, Kyanite, Vivianite
  • M & G Mine – Garnet, Apatite, Smoky Quartz
  • Sipsey Wilderness – Garnets, Tourmaline, Smoky Quartz
  • Bentley Tin Mine – Tourmaline
  • Talladega National Forest – Quartz, Agate, Jasper

Mistaking one gem for another can be frustrating, but with our helpful guides, you’ll be able to tell them apart in no time!

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Alabama

Kids proudly showing what they found while gem panning at Rickwood Caverns State Park

If you’re on the search for more family-friendly gem mining locations, we got you covered. Below is a list of great gem mining places that kids and families will surely appreciate visiting.

Alabama Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

To ensure that gem hunting remains a safe and enjoyable experience, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) regulates all recreational gem hunting activities within the state.

If you wish to gem mines, you must obtain a valid Alabama Gem Hunting Permit before beginning your hunt. The permit is valid for one year and can be obtained online or at any ADCNR office. Individuals under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult who is also licensed to hunt gems.

You should never trespass on private property without permission from the landowner or lessee first. The collection of gems from public lands is generally allowed as long as it does not interfere with other activities such as fishing or camping on those lands. However, it is important to check with the local land manager first before collecting any gems from public lands.

For more information on the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) link above.

Additional places to mine for gems in nearby states

When you’ve gotten the chance to explore every location on the list we’ve suggested above, use the recommendations we’ve made below to locate more gems in neighboring states if you’re also planning to travel there:

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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