The 27 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Pennsylvania In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist

| Updated

The 27 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Pennsylvania In 2024

By Keith Jackson - Geologist


Finding gemstones in Pennsylvania is actually a lot easier than in a lot of places. If you’re looking for a unique and exciting adventure in Pennsylvania gem mining is the perfect activity for you!

With the many beautiful landscapes and geological wonders our state has to offer, searching for amazing gems here will give you an experience to remember. From rivers and creeks to rock quarries, our state offers a wide variety of locations for the avid gem hunter to explore.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gem miner, you’ll find plenty of spots to find your treasure. Let’s take a look at some of the best spots for gem mining, so you can start planning your next adventure!

The best places to mine gems here are in the valleys, coves, creeks, furnaces, hills, state parks, springs, mines, caverns, falls, and farms. Some of our favorite places are Brookdale Mine, Cornwall Iron Furnace, Crum Creek, Crystal Cave, and Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park, which we have all discussed more below.

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

A beautiful, intricate orange Garnet found while gem mining in Pennsylvania

Our state is among the favorites of gem miners, experts or otherwise, because of its abundance in amazing gemstones. Suffice to say, there are tons of different places where you can go gem mining here, so we collected them and selected the best ones for you.

Aside from Pennsylvania, we also have other guides to help you find gem mines near you no matter where you plan to do your next gem hunt in. Follow our guide and get ready to have the most amazing experience!

Rare gemstones found in Pennsylvania

  • Amethyst
  • Calcite
  • Garnet
  • Pyrite

More common gemstones found here

  • Actinolite
  • Agate
  • Albite
  • Amazonite
  • Andradite
  • Aragonite
  • Azurite
  • Barite
  • Beryl
  • Bornite
  • Cerussite
  • Diamond 
  • Diopside
  • Epidote
  • Feldspar
  • Fluorite
  • Hematite
  • Jasper
  • Labradorite
  • Magnetite
  • Marcasite
  • Moonstone
  • Onyx
  • Orthoclase
  • Prehnite
  • Quartz
  • Selenite
  • Serpentine
  • Siderite
  • Smithsonite
  • Sphene
  • Strontianite
  • Sunstone
  • Tourmaline
  • Witherite
  • Zircon

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has tons of gem mining sites that anybody on any stage of their hobby can explore and enjoy visiting. Here are some of our favorite places, where adults can do real gem mining in and where kids can discover the wonders that gem hunting can offer.

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 directly with the location. We haven’t personally verified every location and the access requirements and collection rules often change without notice.

Many of the locations we mention will not allow collecting but are still great places for those who love to find beautiful rocks and minerals in the wild without keeping them. We also can’t guarantee you will find anything in these locations since they are constantly changing. 

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding. If you want even more current options it’s always a good idea to contact local rock and mineral clubs and groups

Brookdale Mine

An amply lit violet blue Azurite attached to a big rock

Phoenixville Mining District, Schuylkill Township, Chester Co., PA

Brookdale Mine has been a major source of gemstones for over 120 years since it was first discovered in the late 1800s when miners were searching for iron ore deposits. They quickly realized that the mine contained valuable gems instead of iron ore.

Since then, it has become one of the most sought-after locations for avid gem hunters. When you visit this place, you can pan for gems while learning about local geology. The mine also offers guided tours of its history, as well as educational programs on gems.

The Types of Gems Found In The Brookdale Mine

This belongs to our list of favorite places to mine because of its rich diversity of gemstones. Particularly, this location is known for having an abundance of the following:

  • Azurite
  • Cerussite
  • Fluorite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz

Don’t worry, telling apart common gems can be really tricky, but we’re here to help! Our guides are designed to make it easy for you to distinguish between different gemstones:

The Best Time To Visit Brookdale Mine

If you’re planning to visit here, better do so during the summer months, specifically from June through August. During this time, the weather is warmer and allows for more comfortable gem mining conditions.

The mine also tends to be less crowded during this time of year, which can make it an even better experience.

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 rockhound supplies 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 

Northeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Northeastern 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.

Cornwall Iron Furnace

A beautiful and shiny green Diopside against a light green background

94 Rexmont Road P.O. Box 251 Cornwall, PA 17016

Cornwall Iron Furnace, a historic iron-making site located in Cornwall, was built in 1742 and operated until 1883, making it the longest continuously-operated furnace in the United States.

It played an important role in the American Industrial Revolution, producing iron for cannons and ammunition during the Revolutionary War, as well as providing a major source of employment for the local community.

Aside from its rich historical significance, it also abounds in different kinds of gemstones. When you chance upon this place, you can purchase buckets of ore from the on-site gift shop and search through them to find gemstones that can be found in our state.

You can also join the guided tours of the facility to learn more about its history and operations.

If that’s not enough reason to visit here, then you should know that this place is also a great spot to find crystals in Pennsylvania.

The Types of Gems Found In The Cornwall Iron Furnace

Gemstones of different kinds abound on this place, but most abundant of them are the following:

  • Actinolite
  • Andradite
  • Calcite
  • Diopside
  • Epidote
  • Fluorite
  • Garnet
  • Labradorite
  • Magnetite
  • Moonstone
  • Prehnite
  • Pyrite

The Best Time To Visit Cornwall Iron Furnace

Looking to visit here? The best time to do just that would be during the summer months when the weather is generally warmer. The gem mining season runs from May through September, so this is the ideal time to plan your trip.

During this time, you can take part in activities like panning and sluicing, and even learn about the history of the area by visiting the museum onsite.

Crum Creek

A beautiful orange Garnet atop a rock found while gem hunting

Delaware County, PA

Crum Creek was first discovered in 1876 by a geologist who noticed the abundance of quartz in the creek bed. Since then, it has become a popular spot for amateur gem prospectors.

When you visit this place, you can purchase pans from local stores to search the creek bed for gems or rent screens and sieves to help you hunt for smaller stones. This location is also home to several other gem mines that offer guided tours and a chance to dig gems out of the ground.

The Types of Gems Found In The Crum Creek

This place garners the attention of gem seekers because of its rich deposits of various gemstones, especially the following:

  • Amethyst
  • Garnet
  • Quartz

The Best Time To Visit Crum Creek

Summer months, specifically from June through August, prove to be the best time to visit this place. The creek is usually at its lowest during these months, making it easier to search for gems.

Additionally, the weather tends to be warmer and more comfortable, making it conducive to spending time outdoors.

Crystal Cave – Great for kids

A group of children all in green busily sifting through mining rough in the mining sluice of Crystal Cave

963 Crystal Cave Road Kutztown, PA 19530

Crystal Cave, considered the largest show cave in our state, was discovered by local farmers in the early 1800s and was first opened to the public in 1872. It contains many beautiful formations of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and draperies.

When you get the chance to visit here, you can explore the winding passages of the cave while learning about its geology and history from knowledgeable guides. More so, you can search for different types of gems here.

Whatever gemstone you find, you can safely keep them or use for jewelry making or other crafts.

The Types of Gems Found In The Crystal Cave

This is among our favorite places that are great for kids because it has tons of cool gemstones, such as the following:

  • Agate
  • Amethyst
  • Onyx
  • Quartz

The Best Time To Visit Crystal Cave

Going here with kids? The best time would be between late May and early October, since the cave is open for public tours and gem mining activities.

However, it is recommended to call ahead to double-check the hours of operation and availability of the activity.

Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park – Great for kids

A kid in orange shirt proudly shows the gemstone that he found at the Penn's Cave & Wildlife Park

222 Penn’s Cave Road Centre Hall, PA 16828

Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park is the only all-water cavern and wildlife park in the United States. It was discovered in 1885 and opened to the public for exploration in 1891.

The park offers a variety of activities, including gem mining, cave tours, wildlife shows, and more. Aside from mining its awesome collection of gems when you visit here, you can also explore the underground lake by boat or take a guided tour of the limestone caverns.

The Types of Gems Found In The Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park

This place is enjoyed by many, especially by kids, because of the wide variety of gemstones that can be found here. Specifically, the ones that can be naturally found in our state are present here as well.

The Best Time To Visit Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park

If you want to visit here, the best time would be during the summer months of June, July, and August. The park offers gem mining activities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during these months.

If you are looking for a more private gem mining experience, you can make reservations for a guided tour or rent your own panning station.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Pennsylvania

Pieces of yellow green Sphene attached to a rock
Aside from our favorite places for our favorite activity, there are other interesting choices to mine gems here. These places are spread throughout different parts of our state, so find the best one that suits your needs and interest.
  • Sherman Valley – Calcite, Orthoclase, Quartz, Tourmaline, Zircon
  • Morrison Cove – Amethyst, Calcite, Quartz
  • Aughwick Creek – Barite, Calcite, Pyrite, Quartz
  • Union Furnace – Calcite, Fluorite
  • Mt. Pleasant – Amethyst
  • The Echo – Quartz
  • Fox Hill – Garnet
  • Caledonia State Park – Agate, Jasper
  • Nottingham Park – Albite, Feldspar, Garnet, Serpentine, Tourmaline
  • Mt. Holly Springs – Agate
  • Little Rocky Ridge – Hematite, Quartz
  • Naamanm Creek – Garnet, Quartz, Sphene
  • Brandywine Creek – Amethyst
  • Chester Creek – Amethyst, Quartz
  • Blue Hill – Albite, Amazonite, Beryl, Feldspar, Sunstone, Quartz
  • Rock Springs Run – Agate

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Pennsylvania

Children showing their amazement as they sift through mine roughs at the Laurel Highlands mine sluice

Children who are interested in the wonders of gem mining will have a blast exploring the other family-friend gem mining sites that we listed down below. These locations are great for some weekend or vacation family fun.

Pennsylvania Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) regulates recreational gem mining in our state. You must obtain a permit from the PADEP for any activity that involves removing minerals from the ground, including gemstones.

This permit fee is $25 per year, and it must be renewed annually. You must also provide information about the location of your proposed mining area and submit a map with your application.

All sites that are located on private land must be with permission from the landowner.

Aside from securing a permit, you are required to abide by certain safety regulations, including wearing protective eyewear, avoiding areas where heavy equipment may be present, and using appropriate tools and techniques when digging or sifting through soil or rock material.

Fines or other penalties await violators of these regulations.

For more information on the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s link above.

Additional places to mine for gems in nearby states

View our guides for these states below if you’ve already been to all the destinations we’ve listed above or if you’re thinking about visiting the neighboring states:

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

About Keith Jackson - Geologist

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He is an active Geologist with a wealth of experience and information from across the country that he loves to share with the Rock Chasing crew.

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