The 23 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Alaska In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 23 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Alaska In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


If you’re looking for the best gem mining locations in Alaska we can help. Our state is a paradise for gem hunters looking to find precious stones. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced gem hunter, our state offers a wealth of opportunities to find some of the world’s most beautiful and rare treasures.

But where should you begin? We’ve lined up a few of the best spots for gem hunting in the Last Frontier. We also included tips on how to make the most out of your search. Because there are so many options for everyone, these are, in our opinion, the most incredible places to learn about mining gems.

The finest places to look for gemstones in our state are the beaches, shorelines, mountains, islands, rivers, and creeks. The big spots we adore – Shumagin Island, Asbestos Mountain, Jade Mountain, and Prospector John’s – are all given in-depth descriptions below.

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

A handful of Rhodonite found while gem hunting in Alaska

There are indeed many hidden beauties in Alaska. We’ll reveal some top spots we recommend you visit for a fantastic gem hunting journey! We’ve also produced many guides to help you locate gem mines near you, no matter where you are. You’ll discover how fun searching for gems can be with the right information and good fortune.

Rare gemstones found in Alaska

  • Amethyst
  • Fluorite
  • Garnet
  • Jade

More common gemstones found here

  • Agate
  • Barite
  • Bloodstone
  • Carnelian
  • Chalcedony
  • Cinnabar
  • Diamond
  • Jasper
  • Nephrite Jade
  • Obsidian
  • Quartz
  • Rhodonite
  • Serpentine
  • Tremolite

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining in Alaska

We’ve selected some of our all-time favorite places to look for gems. Adults with more experience searching for gems and younger ones who are just beginning have access to these exciting options.

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.

Shumagin Island

A pile of pretty Carnelians discovered at Shumagin Island

Aleutians East Borough, AK, United States

Going to Shumagin Island to mine gems is a great way to experience the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. It is an exciting and rewarding adventure, as it offers the opportunity to discover and collect some of the rarest gems in the world. The island is off the coast of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and is only accessible by boat or plane.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Shumagin Island

You can search for various gemstones in this area. Among them are:

  • Agate
  • Carnelian
  • Chalcedony
  • Jasper

The Best Time To Visit Shumagin Island

Mining trips to Shumagin Island are available year-round, but most people prefer to visit during summer when the weather is warmer and sunnier. While exploring Shumagin Island’s rugged terrain for gems, you can also participate in fishing for salmon or halibut and whale watching.

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 equipment 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 

Northwest Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Northwestern 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.

Asbestos Mountain

A few pieces of beautiful Magnesite found at Asbestos Mountain

Northwest Arctic Borough, AK, United States

Asbestos Mountain is a gem mining site in the state’s remote wilderness. The mountain is also home to an abundance of asbestos, which can be mined for construction and other industrial applications. Asbestos Mountain allows gem hunters to explore the rugged landscape and search for gems while learning about its history and geology. It is an excellent destination for those looking to experience the beauty of Alaska’s wild outdoors and get their hands on some rare gems! It’s also among the best spots in Alaska to find crystals.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Asbestos Mountain

Here, you can find different kinds of gems, including:

  • Magnesite
  • Serpentine
  • Tremolite

The Best Time To Visit Asbestos Mountain

The best time to visit Asbestos Mountain is during the summer, from June to August. This is when the weather is warmest and the days are the longest, allowing more time to dig for gems. The ground is also usually softer during this time, making it easier to dig.

Jade Mountain

A gorgeous Nephrite Jade mined at Jade Mountain

Kobuk Valley National Park, Northwest Arctic Borough, AK, United States

Jade Mountain is a unique location in our state that allows gem hunters to search for precious stones in the wilds of the Last Frontier. The area is known for its stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers. You can also partake in educational activities such as panning for gold or sifting through stream beds for gemstones. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an adventure-filled exploration, Jade Mountain offers something for everyone.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Jade Mountain

As the name suggests, this area is full of Nephrite Jades you can mine.

The Best Time To Visit Jade Mountain

You can use the longer daylight hours to search for gems during June, July, and August. Gem hunting can be dangerous, so it is essential to use caution when climbing and exploring Jade Mountain.

Prospector John’s – Great for kids

Kids searching for gems at Prospector John's

Mile 45, Sterling Hwy, Box 604, Cooper Landing, AK 99572, United States

Prospector John’s is a family-owned and operated business specializing in gold and gemstone prospecting, mining, and jewelry making. They offer various services, including panning for gold, sluicing for gems, metal detecting for buried treasures, equipment sales and rentals, custom jewelry design, appraisals, repairs, and educational programs.

After searching across the lovely state of Alaska, we’ve discovered that this is the only location where you can go public gem mining with kids. We suggest you take your kids here to introduce them to the wonders of gem mining and let them have an unforgettable gem hunting experience!

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Prospector John’s

Kids will be thrilled to explore this area and dig for gems. They can come across gemstones like:

  • Amethyst
  • Aquamarine
  • Citrine
  • Emerald
  • Garnet
  • Opal
  • Peridot
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline

Telling gems apart can be challenging, but our guides are designed to make it a breeze. Get ready to become a pro at distinguishing between different gemstones!

The Best Time To Visit Prospector John’s

The best time to visit Prospector John’s is during the summer, from late May through early September. The weather is generally warmer and drier during this period, making it much more comfortable to be outdoors searching for gems.

Prospector John’s is open year-round so that gem miners can visit anytime. However, winter can be cold and snowy in the state and may not be ideal for gem mining. The northern lights can often be seen in the evenings, adding to the beauty of the landscape.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Alaska

A huge wonderful Serpentine located while doing real gem mining in Alaska

There are many more fantastic spots in Alaska where you may do real gem mining after you’ve had the opportunity to check out the areas we previously mentioned. These locations are designed for skilled gem hunters who want to find more active mines.

  • Adak Island – Jasper
  • Admiralty Island – Agate
  • Attu Island – Chalcedony, Jasper
  • Becharof Lake – Carnelian
  • Bristol Bay – Cinnabar
  • California Creek – Serpentine
  • Garnet Ledge – Garnet
  • Jade Creek – Nephrite Jade
  • Kenai River – Agate, Jasper
  • Lake Iliamna – Agate, Bloodstone
  • Matahuska River – Jasper
  • Point Barrow – Nephrite Jade
  • Port Houghton – Garnet, Tourmaline
  • Red Bluff Bay – Serpentine
  • Saginaw Island – Agate, Jasper
  • Salamtof Beach – Agate
  • Silver Bay – Rhodonite
  • Tanaga Island – Agate
  • Unalaska Island – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper

You’re not alone if you find it difficult to differentiate between gems. Our comprehensive guides are here to assist you in telling specific gemstones apart effortlessly:

Alaska Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

Alaska does not have a statewide recreational gem hunting program. However, there are several areas where recreational gem hunting is allowed.

Gemstones can be found in many different areas in Alaska, including beaches, rivers, and mountains. Sometimes, you may need permission from the landowner or the Alaska Department of Natural Resources before going gem hunting.

It is important to note that it is illegal to use motorized vehicles or explosives when looking for gems in the state. It is also unlawful to take any rocks or minerals from any state park or national forest without a permit.

For more details about the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the Alaska Department of Natural Resources 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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