The 16 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Louisiana In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 16 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Louisiana In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Louisiana is known for its unique history, culture, and geography. But did you know it is also home to some of the most diverse gemstone deposits in the United States?

Gem mining in our state is an adventure unlike any other. Whether you’re a gem enthusiast or a casual collector, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the exciting and rewarding pursuit of gem mining. Truly, there is something for everyone here. Whether you’re looking for a rare find or just a day of fun, you’re sure to leave with a bag full of beautiful gems. So grab your shovel and get ready for this discovery!

How We Picked The Best Places For Gem Mining in Louisiana
In order to find the absolute best places in Louisiana 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 Louisiana You Can Mine

A beautiful uncut Amethyst

We are extremely lucky to have access to a range of stunning gemstones for mining in our area. Not every state can boast of such a privilege! If you have the right knowledge and a bit of luck, you can uncover both the rare and more common gems in this location.

Rare gemstone found in Louisiana

  • Agate

More common gemstones found here

  • Amethyst
  • Calcite
  • Carnelian
  • Gypsum
  • Jasper
  • Opal
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Tourmaline

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining In Louisiana

We selected the five best locations to mine gems here. These places will give adults the best chances to do some real gem mining. We also included suggestions of places that will allow kids to learn and have fun while gem hunting.

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.

Gravel Hills in Northern Catahoula Parish

A vibrant Jasper is among the gems that can be found in the gravel hills of Northern Catahoula Parish

Catahoula County, LA, United States

Northern Catahoula Parish is located in the central part of the state. Its gravel hills are known for gemstone mining, which has been going on since the early 1800s. The area has a rich history of mining different gemstones due to its unique geology and abundance of minerals.

In recent years, there has been an increase in interest in these gems as they are becoming more popular for use in jewelry and other decorative items. The parish is also home to several small-scale mines that specialize in extracting these gems from the earth.

The Types of Gems Found In The Gravel Hills Of Northern Catahoula Parish

There are different kinds of rare and more common gems in this area, but the following are the gems this location is most known for:

  • Agate
  • Carnelian
  • Jasper

The Best Time To Visit Gravel Hills Of Northern Catahoula Parish

The best time to visit this place for gem mining is during the summer months when the weather is warm and dry. This will allow you to take advantage of the warmer weather and have more time to explore the area.

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.

St. Tammany Parish

Commonly known as fool's gold, Pyrite is among the gems that can be found in St. Tammany Parish

St. Tammany Parish, LA United States

St. Tammany Parish is home to a unique gem mining experience. The area has been a source of quartz and other precious stones since the early 1800s. Gem mining here began as an offshoot of copper mining in the area, with miners finding small stones and gems embedded in the copper ore they were excavating.

Today, when you visit St. Tammany Parish, you can still experience gem hunting firsthand with several local businesses offering guided tours of active gem mines and lessons on how to look for gems.

The Types of Gems Found In The St. Tammany Parish

There is a wide variety of gems that you can find in this location. Most of these are:

  • Agate
  • Amethyst
  • Calcite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz

The Best Time To Visit St. Tammany Parish

The best time to visit St. Tammany Parish for gem hunting is during the spring and summer months. The weather is mild and the days are long, allowing you to spend more time outdoors looking for gems. The water levels are also typically lower during these months, which makes it easier to mine the gems.

Catahoula Formation

Louisiana Sand Opal is hard to find, but can be mined at the Catahoula Formation near Leesville

Vernon Parish, LA United States

The Catahoula Formation is a geological formation located near Leesville. The location is composed of sandstone, clay and shale, and is known for its gem mining potential.

Gem mining in the Catahoula Formation has been popular since the 1950s when locals began prospecting for gems in their spare time. Today, you can still enjoy searching for gems in this unique geological formation.

The Types of Gems Found In The Catahoula Formation

The hard-to-find Louisiana Opal, also called the Louisiana Sand Opal since it is a sandstone held together by clear opal, can be found at the Catahoula Formation.

The Best Time To Visit Catahoula Formation

The best time to visit Catahoula Formation for gem mining is during the spring and summer months. The area is known for its abundance of gems, so visiting during the warmer months will increase your chances of finding something special.

Kisatchie National Forest – Great for kids

Quartz is one of the gems that can be found at the Kisatchie National Forest

Provencal, LA United States

Kisatchie National Forest is the only National Forest located in the state. It was established in 1930 to protect the area’s natural resources, including its many gemstones and minerals.

Gem mining has been a popular activity in Kisatchie National Forest since the early 1900s when miners discovered deposits of Pyrite, Tourmaline, Quartz, and other gems. Today, you can still search for gems along creeks and rivers throughout the forest. There are also several commercial operations that offer gem mining experiences if you want to find your own treasure.

The Types of Gems Found In The Kisatchie National Forest

This location is not only rich in scenery, but in gemstones as well. Here are some of the gemstones you can find here:

  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Kisatchie National Forest

The best time to visit Kisatchie National Forest for gem mining is during the warmer months of the year, from April to October. During this time, the weather is mild and conducive to outdoor activities, such as gem mining. Be sure to check local regulations and obtain proper permits before engaging in any type of gem hunting.

Dark Woods Adventure Park – Great for kids

Kids learning all about gemstones and gem mining at the Dark Woods Adventure Park

4343 University Parkway, Natchitoches, LA 71457 United States

Dark Woods Adventure Park is an outdoor adventure park that offers a variety of activities for children and adults alike. The park features a gem mining activity, where you can search for gems and minerals in specially prepared bags of gravel. The gravel has been sourced from the nearby Kisatchie National Forest, ensuring that all of the gems found are genuine and unique. You also have the opportunity to pan for gold in a specially constructed sluice box.

The Types of Gems Found In The Dark Woods Adventure Park

Sourcing from Kisatchie National Forest, the Dark Woods Adventure Park features the following gemstones:

  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Dark Woods Adventure Park

The best time to visit Dark Woods Adventure Park is during the summer months of June through August. The weather is generally warm and sunny during this time of year, making it ideal for outdoor activities like gem mining. Additionally, the park is open year-round, so you can plan your trip around your own schedule.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Louisiana

A calcite gem that can be found in the Old Pearl River

This state abounds in other places for real gem mining aside from our favorite ones. We created a list of places for those of you who want to do real gem mining.

  • Amite River Bank – Agate
  • Bogue Chitto River – Agate, Amethyst, Quartz
  • Gulfport Creek – Jasper
  • Tangipahoa River Bank – Agate, Carnelian
  • Pearl River – Agate
  • Livingston Parish – Carnelian
  • Big Creek – Agate
  • Ouachita River – Agate
  • Old Pearl River – Agate, Calcite, Pyrite, Quartz
  • Citronelle Formation – Agate

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Louisiana

Kids trying gem panning at the Prehistoric Park of Cajun Palms RV Resort

There are also other family-friendly public gem mining places in this state where kids can learn about gems while having fun. Below is one of these places that families will surely enjoy visiting.

Louisiana Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

While recreational gem hunting is allowed in certain areas in the state, regulations are implemented by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure the safety of the environment and its resources. It is important to note that some areas may have restrictions or prohibitions on gem hunting, not only due to environmental concerns, but also due to cultural values associated with certain sites.

Gem hunting is also regulated by several other organizations. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) regulates gem hunting in areas such as state parks, wildlife management areas, and other public lands where gem collecting may be allowed with a permit. Meanwhile, the United States Forest Service (USFS) has regulations for gem hunting on national forest land.

For more information on the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources link above.

Additional places to mine for gems in nearby states

If you’re also intending to travel any of the bordering states after you’ve visited each place on the list we’ve given above, use the guides we’ve created below to find even more hidden gems:

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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