The 19 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Montana In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 19 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Montana In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Montana is a nature-lover’s paradise and a gem-hunter’s dream. With a vast landscape of mountains, valleys, and rivers, the state offers some of the best spots to dig for gems. From guided tours to dig sites, there’s sure to be something that catches your eye.

The varied geological terrain of our state is prepared to give you the ideal gem hunting experience. The best places we’ve found to look for gems are listed in this article, along with tips on how to make the most of your search. There are many accessible spots for everyone, beginners or experts alike!

The finest locations to look for gemstones in the Treasure State are mines, creeks, rivers, forests, hillsides, and mountains. We’ve gone into great detail below on some of our favorite places, including Crystal Park, Montana Blue Jewel Mine, Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine, Yellowstone Gem Mining Company, Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine.

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

Many gorgeous Rhodochrosites found while gem hunting in Montana

Many distinct gems can be found in Montana. We’ve gathered recommendations and enough information to assist you in locating gem mines near you because we know that access to these resources can differ in each state. Gem hunters can find rare and more common gems here with the appropriate knowledge and a little luck.

Rare gemstones found in Montana

  • Amethyst
  • Garnet
  • Quartz
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Sapphire

More common gemstones found here

  • Agate
  • Aquamarine
  • Beryl
  • Bornite
  • Cerussite
  • Chalcedony
  • Chrysocolla
  • Corundum
  • Diamond
  • Dumortierite
  • Jasper
  • Kyanite
  • Natrolite
  • Onyx
  • Opal
  • Rhodonite
  • Ruby
  • Scheelite
  • Sphalerite
  • Stolzite
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline
  • Turquoise

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining in Montana

Here are our top five locations that adults and children will enjoy when looking for various gems in our state. These suggestions are perfect for adults who want to do real gem mining and are ideal for kids who are curious about gems and want to try 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.

Crystal Park

People hunting for gems at Crystal Park

Beaverhead – Deerlodge National Forest, MT 59746, United States

Crystal Park is a unique location that allows gem hunters to explore the great outdoors while mining for gems and minerals. Here you can search for beautiful gems and minerals in an authentic mining experience. The park features a variety of activities, such as sluicing, panning, and more.

We had the unique opportunity to participate in educational activities such as lectures on geology and mineralogy. With its stunning scenery and plentiful gems, we think Crystal Park is ideal for families exploring nature while having fun!

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Crystal Park

In addition to its extraordinary beauty, this location offers some of the nicest gems, including:

  • Agate
  • Amethyst
  • Garnet
  • Jasper
  • Opal
  • Quartz
  • Sapphire
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Crystal Park

The ideal time to visit Crystal Park is from late May to early September when the ground is soft, so digging for gems is easier.

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.

Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine

Several pieces of beautiful Amethysts located at Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine

5360 Castles Rd, Helena, MT 59602, United States

The Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine is one of the continent’s oldest and largest sapphire mines and has been producing some of the finest quality gems for over 100 years. The mine is open to the public for prospecting, and gem miners can search for their sapphires by hand or sift through piles of tailings from previous mining operations. This is also a well-known place to find crystals in Montana.

You are also welcome to purchase pre-mined sapphires directly from the mine or visit one of the nearby rock shops to browse a selection of loose stones.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine

This place is most known for having Sapphire, but some gemstones are also present, including the following:

  • Amethyst
  • Calcite
  • Fluorite
  • Kyanite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine

The summer season of June to August is when it is mild outside and comfortable for outdoor activities like gem mining. The mine is accessible from May through October, but summer is the optimal time to visit for the best conditions.

Montana Blue Jewel Mine

Two gem miners digging for gems at Montana Blue Jewel Mine

5582 Four Cee’s Rd, Helena, MT 59602, United States

The Montana Blue Jewel Mine is located in the Sapphire Mountains and is one of the country’s largest and oldest sapphire mines. It has been producing beautiful, high-quality sapphires since the late 1800s. The mine allows gem miners to search for their sapphires and take home some of the most beautiful gemstones.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Montana Blue Jewel Mine

Other than sapphire, which is the most prevalent gemstone you can find at this location, some gems can also be found here, including:

  • Garnet
  • Jasper
  • Ruby
  • Topaz

The Best Time To Visit Montana Blue Jewel Mine

The summer months provide the best conditions to hunt for gems. The mine is typically open from mid-May to mid-September, depending on weather and other factors.

Yellowstone Gem Mining Company – Great for kids

Kids searching for gemstones at Yellowstone Gem Mining Company

105 S Faithful St, West Yellowstone, MT 59758, United States

Yellowstone Gem Mining Company specializes in providing gem hunters with a fun and educational experience of gem mining. You can choose from various packages, each containing different gems and minerals. The company offers an interactive and immersive experience where you can learn about the different types of stones, how to identify them, and how to mine them.

After mining in this location, we got to take home our gemstones found in a souvenir bag. It is an excellent experience for families who wish to take their kids outside and search for gems.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Yellowstone Gem Mining Company

Kids can sort through the various gemstones found at this location, including:

  • Amethyst
  • Aquamarine
  • Citrine
  • Garnet
  • Iolite
  • Kyanite
  • Labradorite
  • Moonstone
  • Opal
  • Peridot
  • Quartz
  • Ruby
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Yellowstone Gem Mining Company

The best time to visit Yellowstone Gem Mining Company is summer. From June to August, the weather is generally mild and pleasant, making it a great time of year to explore the area and search for gems. The summer months are also when the business is typically busiest, so gem miners should plan and book their trips in advance.

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine – Great for kids

Children looking for gems at Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine

21 MT-38, Philipsburg, MT 59858, United States

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine is an alluvial sapphire deposit located in the El Dorado Bar of the Missouri River near Helena. It has been a top tourist destination since its discovery in 1889. You can search for sapphires and other gems by sifting through gravel piles or using sluicing equipment.

Gem Mountain offers a variety of activities, including gem identification, gem cutting, gold panning, and jewelry making. With over 300 acres of sapphire-bearing gravel, gem miners are sure to find something special.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine

In addition to sapphire, which is the most common gemstone you can discover here, other gems can also be found here, such as:

  • Amethyst
  • Garnet
  • Peridot
  • Ruby
  • Topaz

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Montana

A wonderful Fluorite found while real gem mining in Montana

Fortunately, our top options for real gem mining in this state are not only available. Here are some more great locations you can dig for gems. To know what gemstones you might bring home before visiting, we also included the types of gemstones found at these locations.

  • Black Pine Mine – Scheelite, Stolzite
  • Calvert Hill Mine – Aquamarine, Garnet, Scheelite
  • Crystal Mountain Mine – Fluorite
  • Emma Mines – Barite, Bornite, Calcite
  • Gallatin National Forest – Sapphire
  • Jefferson River – Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper
  • Magpie Gulch Trail – Sapphire
  • Pole Creek – Garnet, Quartz, Ruby, Sapphire
  • Pryor Mountains – Agate
  • Ruby Reservoir – Garnet
  • South Boulder River – Quartz
  • White Cloud Mine – Beryl

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Montana

A kid doing public gem mining in Montana

Here are more family-friendly locations that you and your kids will enjoy if you want to show your kids the thrill of public gem mining.

  • Eldorado Sapphire Mine – 5582 Four Cee’s Rd, Helena, MT 59602, United States
  • Red Rock Mine and Garnet ERY – 2045 MT-287, Sheridan, MT 59749, United States

Montana Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

Montana has a variety of regulations related to recreational gem hunting. The regulations vary depending on the type of gemstone being collected, the location of the collection, and other factors. Generally, collecting gems from most public lands managed by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is illegal. However, some exceptions exist, including gathering for educational and scientific purposes with prior written approval from the managing agency. It is illegal to collect or dig for gems on private property without permission from the landowner/occupant. It is also prohibited to remove any minerals or rocks found on private property without permission from the landowner/occupant. Additionally, gemstone collection is not permitted in all Montana State Parks and Monuments unless allowed explicitly by regulation or permit issued by the state.

For further details about the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit Montana’s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) 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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