The 24 Best Spots For Gem Mining In Wisconsin In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 24 Best Spots For Gem Mining In Wisconsin In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rockhound there are some great options for gem mining in Wisconsin. From the Baraboo Hills to the Kettle Moraine, these locations are filled with beautiful gems.

Wisconsin is a great spot for finding gems, especially in the northwestern and southwestern regions. Stream beds, river gravels, quarries, glacial moraine gravels, and lakeshore beaches are all great places to look for rocks. Mining dumps are also a great source of specimens, with a high probability of finding something.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the best spots for gem hunting in Wisconsin. From the shores of Lake Michigan to the rugged hills of the Northwoods, each of these locations is sure to provide an unforgettable experience. So grab your shovel and bucket, and let’s get ready for some gem hunting!

How We Picked The Best Places For Gem Mining in Wisconsin
In order to find the absolute best places in Wisconsin for gem mining we had a lot of things to consider. 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 Wisconsin You Can Mine

A green malachite found gem hunting in Wisconsin

We are extremely fortunate to possess multiple gorgeous gemstones that can be sourced in this area. Not all states are as privileged! These gems, both rare and common, can be located if you have the proper knowledge and a bit of luck:

Rare gemstones found in Wisconsin

  • Agates
  • Calcite
  • Diamonds
  • Malachite

More common gemstones found here

  • Almandine
  • Beryl
  • Bornite
  • Celestine
  • Cuprite
  • Diopside
  • Epidote
  • Epidote
  • Geodes
  • Gypsum
  • Hematite
  • Jasper
  • Magnetite
  • Magnetite
  • Pearls
  • Quartz
  • Quartzite
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Siderite
  • Sillimanite
  • Staurolite
  • Thomsonite

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining in Wisconsin

With so many great options to choose from in Wisconsin, we wanted to narrow it down for you. Here are our favorite places for gem mining for both adults and children:

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.

Montreal Mine

Hematite found in the Montreal Mine

State Road 77 – Montreal, WI 54550

The Montreal Mine is located near Ironwood in Gogebic County. The mine was first opened in 1885 by the Montreal Mining Company, and operated until 1967. During its 82 year history, it produced significant amounts of copper, iron ore and zinc. In 1921, the Montreal Mine became the largest producer of copper in the United States.

Today, the site is a popular tourist attraction with visitors able to explore old mining buildings and machinery that still remain.

The Types of Gems Found In The Montreal Mine

There are many different gems and other things to find including:

  • Actinolite
  • Barite
  • Calcite
  • Celestine
  • Dolomite
  • Gypsum
  • Hematite
  • Marcasite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Siderite
  • Talc

The Best Time To Visit The Montreal Mine

The best time to visit is during the summer months. The temperatures tend to be mild and the days are usually sunny, making it a great time to explore the area and take part in outdoor activities.

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.

Big Bay State Park

Three lake superior agates found while gem hunting

2402 Hagen Rd, La Pointe, WI 54850

Big Bay State Park is located on Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. The park features 8 miles of shoreline on Lake Superior, camping, hiking trails, swimming beaches and bird watching. When you visit here, you might even have a chance to get your hands on some of the prettiest Wisconsin crystals.

The area was first inhabited by Native Americans who used the island for fishing and hunting. After 1855, it became part of the United States and a popular tourist destination. In 1921, Big Bay State Park was established and has been open ever since for visitors to enjoy its natural beauty.

The Types of Gems Found In Big Bay State Park

There are several gems you can keep an eye out for when looking around but this spot is most well known for:

  • Superior Agate
  • Jasper

The Best Time To Visit Big Bay State Park

The best time to visit Big Bay State Park is during the summer months of June through August. The park offers a variety of activities and attractions aside from hunting for gems, including camping, swimming, hiking, biking, and fishing. During the summer months, temperatures are mild and days are long with plenty of sunshine.

Plum Creek

Raw diamond found at Plum Creek

N4351 Co. Rd. HH Plum City, WI 54761

Plum Creek is located in Nugget Lake County Park, a scenic park located in Douglas County. The park is situated on the south shore of Nugget Lake and consists of over 500 acres of wooded land and rolling hills.

Nugget Lake Park has a unique history related to diamond mining. In the late 1800s, prospectors came to the area in search of diamonds. While they never found any significant deposits, they did discover quartz crystals that looked like diamonds. These crystals were known as “nuggets” and became a popular souvenir for visitors to take home. As a result, Nugget Lake County Park was named after these crystals.

The Types of Gems Found In Plum Creek and Nugget Lake Park

You can find a lot of quartz crystals in the park but it is most well-known for being one of the few places in Wisconsin where you can find diamonds.

The Best Time To Visit Plum Creek

The best and most popular time to visit is between May and October. This is because the water levels are usually lower during this time period, making it easier to access the gravel beds that contain gems. Additionally, the warmer weather makes it more pleasant for outdoor activities like gem mining.

Dells Mining Co – Great for kids

Children learning to mine for gems at Dells Mining Co

427 Broadway Ave, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

Established in 1982, Dell’s Mining Co. offers an exciting and educational experience for all ages! Guests are invited to search through sand for a variety of gems and minerals, including rubies, sapphires, fossils and arrowheads. The knowledgeable staff is always happy to help with suggestions on how to identify the treasures you find.

After your hunt, you can take your gems home or have them set into jewelry at their on-site shop. Dell’s Mining Co. also offers custom gemstone cutting services and rock tumbling supplies so you can make your own jewelry right at home!

The Types Of Gems Found At Dells Mining Co

  • Amethyst
  • Agate
  • Quartz
  • Citrine
  • Garnet
  • Beryl
  • Jasper
  • Fluorite

The Best Time To Visit Dells Mining Co

The best time to visit Dells Mining Co. is during the summer months, when the weather is warm and sunny and the attractions are open. The peak season runs from May through September, so plan your visit accordingly.

Door County Gem Mining

Family hunting for gem at Door County Gem Mining

7340 WI-42, Egg Harbor, WI 54209

Door County Gem Mining offers a unique gem mining experience. Visitors can pan for gemstones in the sluice, which is filled with a variety of different gems. They also offer a variety of activities such as gem identification and sorting, jewelry-making classes and more!

The company also sells a variety of rocks, minerals, fossils and other items from their store. It has become a popular tourist attraction for those interested in geology and gem collecting and can be a great option to get kids interested.

The Types Of Gems Found At Door County Gem Mining

Some of the gems that visitors can find include:

  • Amethyst
  • Calcite
  • Fluorite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz

The Best Time To Visit Door County Gem Mining

The best time to visit Door County Gem Mining is during the summer months from May to September when the weather is typically warm and sunny. The gem mining season typically runs from mid-May through late October.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Wisconsin

Beautiful black tourmaline

After getting the opportunity to check out our recommended spots above, there are numerous other great locations for real gem mining in Wisconsin. Listed below is a more thorough list of locations where you can discover some fantastic gems. These spots are better suited for adults and those who have some experience gem hunting.

  • Ableman’s Gorge – Quartz
  • Amnicon River Beach
  • The Bend Deposit – azurite, malachite, and pyrite
  • Dresser Trap Rock Quarry – actinolite, augite, bornite, calcite, chrysotile, cuprite, epidote, magnetite, quartz, zoisite
  • Little Girls Point Beach
  • LaSalle Falls – Black Tourmaline
  • Necedah Bluff – Quartz
  • Pine River – Red Tourmaline
  • Plum Creek – Diamonds
  • Plummer Mine – Magnetite and Hematite
  • Powell – Kyanite
  • Rib Mountain – Quartzite
  • Quartz Hill – Quartz
  • Saxon Harbor Beach
  • Stettin – Moonstone
Young girl looking for gems at Crystal Cave

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Wisconsin

If you’re looking for some more family-friendly locations, or a way to get your first taste of gem mining there are plenty of options for that as well. Here are some of the better public gem ming locations especially for younger children and families. These aren’t traditional mining but are a great introduction and way to learn about gems and rocks.

Wisconsin Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

Gem hunting regulations are set forth by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Generally, gemstones and rocks may be collected from public lands for personal use, with some restrictions.

It is illegal to remove any rocks or minerals from Wisconsin state parks or properties owned by the DNR. It is also illegal to collect gems and minerals in designated wilderness areas or areas that are part of a scientific study.

In addition, it is important to note that rock collecting on private property requires the permission of the landowner. If you plan on collecting gems and minerals on private land, make sure you have obtained written permission from the owner.

For additional information, contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources using the 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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