The 23 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In West Virginia In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 23 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In West Virginia In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


If you’re looking for the best spots for gem mining in West Virginia, you have come to the right place! Known for its vast and beautiful terrain, our state is also home to many incredible gemstones.

From the beautiful mountains to the lush forests and rivers, you will find the perfect spot for you. Indeed, gem mining here offers a unique and exciting experience that you won’t find anywhere else!

The best places to mine gems here are in the creeks, springs, mountains, caverns, and state forests. Among our favorite ones that we discussed in more details below are Knobly Mountain, New Creek Mine, Berkeley Springs, Smoke Hole Caverns, and Seneca Caverns.

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

A light orange, crystal-like Chabazite against a dark red background

Our state may be famous for coal mining, but what others might not know is that it also boasts of an abundance of different kinds of gemstones. And this guide can help you find them!

Aside from West Virginia, we also crafted other guides that will help you find gem mines near you, wherever you are. Without a doubt, gem hunting can be a very rewarding hobby if you know where to look.

Rare gemstones found in West Virginia

  • Fossil Coral (A gemstone formed when coral remains are gradually replaced with Agate)

More common gemstones found here

  • Amethyst
  • Barite
  • Calcite
  • Carnelian
  • Celestite
  • Chabazite
  • Diamonds
  • Dolomite
  • Epidote
  • Fluorite
  • Garnet
  • Gypsum
  • Hematite
  • Jasper
  • Marcasite
  • Opal
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Quartzite
  • Ruby
  • Siderite
  • Sphalerite
  • Tourmaline

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining In West Virginia

We listed down and discussed our favorite places for gem mining in our state to serve as guide for those looking for some thrilling and exciting gem hunting adventure here. To make sure everyone’s covered, we included recommendations that both adults and kids alike will appreciate and 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 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

Knobly Mountain

An intricate Fluorite-Calcite found while gem mining

Knobly Mountain, WV 26726

Located in Hampshire County, Knobly Mountain is part of the Allegheny Mountains range. It has a long history, with Native American artifacts being found in the area dating back to 8000 BC. In the mid-1800s, miners would come to Knobly Mountain from all over the country to try their luck at finding precious gemstones. Over time, more and more people began to come to Knobly Mountain for gem mining, which eventually led to it becoming a popular tourist destination.

Today, you can rent equipment from local shops or bring your own tools and buckets to search through piles of dirt and gravel for gemstones. You can also take tours of the area with experienced guides who will provide information about the history and geology of the mountain as well as tips on how to find gems here.

The Types of Gems Found In The Knobly Mountain

This place is a popular site for those interested in gem mining because of its abundant deposits of different gemstones, especially the following:

  • Calcite
  • Celestite
  • Chalcedony
  • Dolomite
  • Fluorite
  • Quartz
  • Sphalerite

The Best Time To Visit Knobly Mountain

The best time to visit here is between April and October when the weather is mild and the water temperatures are warm enough for gem mining. Specifically, the peak season for this activity is from June to August, when temperatures are most comfortable and the water levels are ideal for gem searching.

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.

New Creek Mine

A shiny, silver Hematite against a black background

New Creek, Mineral County, WV 26726

New Creek Mine is a historic abandoned coal mine that was originally operated in the early 1900s by the New Creek Coal & Coke Company, which later became part of Consolidated Coal Company. The coal mined here was used to fuel the nearby railroads and local steel mills. In the late 1990s, the mine was re-opened as a tourist attraction and gem mining destination. In recent years, the area has become even more popular with gem miners due to its proximity to Washington D.C., Baltimore and other major cities in the Northeast region of the United States.

When you visit here today, you can mine for precious gemstones while enjoying the other attractions the area has to offer. If you want to extend your exploration, you’re in luck because it’s also among the best sites to find crystals in West Virginia.

The Types of Gems Found In The New Creek Mine

This place abounds in various kinds of gems, but it’s richest with the following:

  • Calcite
  • Hematite
  • Quartzite

The Best Time To Visit New Creek Mine

If you’re planning to visit here, the best time would be between April and October. The warmer months offer the best conditions for gem mining.

Berkeley Springs

An unpolished piece of shiny Pyrite on a gray surface

127 Fairfax Street, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411

Located in our state’s Eastern Panhandle, Berkeley Springs was the site of one of the first gem mining operations in North America. In 1868, gem-grade Tourmaline was discovered here, causing it to become a popular tourist attraction for many years. To this day, this place is visited by avid gem miners hoping for rare finds.

The Types of Gems Found In The Berkeley Springs

This location has plenty of different kinds of gemstones, including the following:

  • Calcite
  • Jasper
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Selenite
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Berkeley Springs

The best time to visit here is during the late spring and summer months. The weather is milder, making it more enjoyable to be outside digging for gems. During the summer months, you may even have the opportunity to go on a guided gem mining tour.

Smoke Hole Caverns – Great for kids

Two girls sifting for gems at the mine sluice of Smoke Hole Gemstone Mining

8290 N Fork Hwy Cabins, WV 26855

Smoke Hole Caverns, first discovered in 1716, is home to a variety of gemstones ever since its beginning. When you get the chance to visit here, you can rent tools and buckets to mine your own gems from the cave walls. You can also take guided tours of the caves for an additional fee.

The Types of Gems Found In The Smoke Hole Caverns

This place is great for kids to be introduced to the hobby of gem mining since it has over 50 different gemstone varieties.

The Best Time To Visit Smoke Hole Caverns

Planning a visit? The summer months of May to September are the best months to be here. The temperatures are mild and the water levels are at their lowest, making it easier to search for gems. During this time of year, you’ll have access to all of the caverns and can take advantage of the guided tours and gem mining activities.

Seneca Caverns – Great for kids

A little girl playfully shows the gemstone she found at the sluice of Seneca Caverns

3328 Germany Valley Rd Riverton, WV 26814

Seneca Caverns is a limestone cave system that was discovered in 1744 by two Native American brothers. The caverns are filled with stunning rock formations that have been naturally carved over thousands of years. When you visit here, you can purchase a bag of mining rough to sift through and find your own gems or purchase pre-mined bags of gems from the gift shop. You can also avail of the guided tours through the caverns as well as educational programs about geology, cave ecology, and history.

The Types of Gems Found In The Seneca Caverns

There are different kinds of gemstones that you will find here, but the most abundant ones are the following:

  • Amethyst
  • Garnet
  • Pyrite
  • Rose Quartz
  • Ruby

The Best Time To Visit Seneca Caverns

If you wish to visit here, the best time is during the warmer months of April-October. The caverns are open year round, but the summer and fall months provide better weather for gem mining. Take note, though, that the temperature inside the caverns remains a constant 54°F (12°C) all year round, so visitors should dress appropriately no matter when they come.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in West Virginia

An ethereal-looking bunch of white Celestite

If you’ve already visited our favorite places here and would like to experience some more gem mining fun, we listed down below our other recommended locations where you can find different kinds of gemstones.

  • Strange Creek – Siderite
  • South Fork Mountain – Hematite
  • Coopers Rock State Forest – Hematite, Opal
  • Sugar Grove – Chabazite
  • Judy Gap – Calcite, Dolomite, Quartz
  • Fort Spring – Calcite, Celestite, Dolomite, Quartz
  • Lewisburg – Quartz
  • Renick – Calcite, Fluorite
  • Snickers Gap – Quartz, Epidote
  • Morgantown – Pyrite
  • Greer – Calcite
  • Harman – Calcite, Dolomite, Quartz
  • New Martinsville – Muscovite

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in West Virginia

A mix of white and apricot-colored Dolomite against a black background

For families looking for more kid and family-friendly gem mining locations aside from our favorite ones, here are some more great recommendations for you.

West Virginia Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

West Virginia does not have any specific laws or regulations governing recreational gem mining. However, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and the Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation do have rules and regulations related to surface mining operations that could potentially affect recreational gem mining activities.

WVDEP has rules related to surface coal mining operations, including requirements for obtaining permits, restrictions on where surface coal mining can take place, standards for controlling dust and erosion, requirements for water quality monitoring, and more. Meanwhile, the Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation has rules related to abandoned mines in our state, including requirements for reclaiming abandoned mine sites.

If you are planning to do recreational gem mining here, you should also be aware of applicable state laws and regulations related to surface mining operations, as well as those pertaining to abandoned mine sites.

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

Additional Places To Mine For Gems 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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