The 24 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Virginia In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 24 Best Spots For Gem Hunting In Virginia In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

It can be really tough to find good gem hunting spots. So many of the best ones are closely guarded secrets that you have to know somebody to find out about. Fortunately, we can help! Our state is home to some of the best gem mining spots in the country, and you’re sure to find something to add to your collection if you use our favorites below.

Virginia is full of natural beauty and geological wonders, from the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the historic Shenandoah Valley. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a unique experience or a seasoned pro, this state will give you an adventure you won’t forget. Read on to learn more and visit the top places to dig for gems in Virginia we’ve found!

The best places to mine gems in Virginia are along hillsides, creeks, rivers, and loose at quarries, mine dumps, and pay-to-dig mines. We detail a few outstanding choices below, such as Morefield Mine, Willis Mountain Kyanite Mine, and Pittsylvania Wayside Park.

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

A gorgeous Staurolite located while gem hunting in Virginia

Virginia has one of the most diverse selections of gems that both amateurs and pros can find. The availability of gem mining resources varies from state to state, and not everyone has access to such great options. We would know after putting together so many guides to help you locate gem mines near you we have a very good idea of how good we have it! With the correct information and luck, rare and common gems can be found.

Rare gemstones found in Virginia

  • Amazonite
  • Feldspar
  • Garnet
  • Hematite
  • Kyanite
  • Quartz
  • Staurolite

More common gemstones found here

  • Agate
  • Amethyst
  • Apatite
  • Aragonite
  • Azurite
  • Barite
  • Beryl
  • Calcite
  • Cerussite
  • Chalcedony
  • Chrysocolla
  • Cuprite
  • Diamonds
  • Dolomite
  • Epidote
  • Fluorite
  • Jasper
  • Marcasite
  • Microcline
  • Moonstone
  • Opal
  • Pyrite
  • Selenite
  • Serpentine
  • Siderite
  • Smithsonite
  • Sphalerite
  • Vivianite

Our Favorite Places For Gem Mining in Virginia

These are the spots that we highly recommend for both kids and adults. The locations include places where adults can search for gems and our picks for spots where kids can learn about and interact with gemstones.

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

Morefield Mine

People searching for gems at Morefield Mine

13400 Butlers Rd, Amelia Court House, VA 23002, United States

Morefield Mine has been in operation since 1931, making it one of the oldest gem mines in the country. The mine allows guests to dig for gems and minerals in its historic tailings pile. It has generated a wide range of mineral specimens over the years it’s been operating. Although many are tiny, they still have scientific value and are enjoyable to locate.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Morefield Mine

You can locate a variety of gemstones in this area, including:

  • Amazonite
  • Amethyst
  • Aquamarine
  • Beryl
  • Feldspar
  • Fluorite
  • Garnet
  • Quartz
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Morefield Mine

The mine is open to the public year-round and provides a unique way to explore the state’s natural beauty. However, winter can be cold and snowy due to its location in the mountains.

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.

Willis Mountain Kyanite Mining

Gem hunters digging gemstones at Willis Mountain Kyanite Mine

30 Willis Mountain Plant Ln, Dillwyn, VA 23936, United States

Willis Mountain Kyanite Mining is a family-owned business located in the Appalachian Mountains. The company has been mining kyanite since the early 1970s and also produces other minerals. It’s the largest producer of kyanite in the country and one of the largest in the world. The company mines kyanite from its open pit and underground operations.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Willis Mountain Kyanite Mining

Here there are many different sorts of gemstones you can find, like:

  • Apatite
  • Garnet
  • Hematite
  • Kyanite
  • Lazulite
  • Pyrite
  • Topaz

The Best Time To Visit Willis Mountain Kyanite Mining

The summer months offer the most pleasant weather for outdoor activities, such as hiking and exploring the area around the mine. In addition, it’s when the mine is open for gem hunters to explore and learn more about the gemstones found there.

Pittsylvania Wayside Park

A few pieces of Zircon obtained at Pittsylvania Wayside Park

1678 Main St, Hurt, VA 24563, United States

Pittsylvania Wayside Park is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the park offers a wide variety of gemstones for you to mine. You can use sluice boxes to sift through sand and gravel in search of their precious gems.

The park also offers educational programs about geology and gemstones for those looking to know more about these precious stones. With its beautiful scenery, friendly staff, and plenty of gems to discover, Pittsylvania Wayside Park is the perfect place to enjoy outdoor fun with your family!

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Pittsylvania Wayside Park

There are several unique gems you can locate here, including:

  • Beryl
  • Garnet
  • Orthoclase
  • Zircon

The Best Time To Visit Pittsylvania Wayside Park

The best time to visit Pittsylvania Wayside Park is in the summer. This is when the weather is warmest, and the gemstone hunting activity is at its peak.

Lucky Lake Gem Mine – Great for kids

A kid looking for gems at Lucky Lake Gem Mine

4125 Harpers Road, McKenney, VA 23872, United States

Lucky Lake Gem Mine is an outdoor gemstone mining attraction in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Gem hunters can pan for gems in the Lucky Lake stream. They can also explore the mine’s rock shop, where they can find various minerals, crystals, and jewelry. Lucky Lake Gem Mine staff provides detailed information about identifying different stones and minerals and tips on panning for gems and other treasures. The mine also offers educational programs for school groups and family outings.

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Lucky Lake Gem Mine

There is a wide variety of exciting gems unique to this area. Here are some of the gemstones you can dig for:

  • Amethyst
  • Calcite
  • Fluorite
  • Garnet
  • Hematite
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Lucky Lake Gem Mine

The mine is open from April 1st to October 31st, so these months offer the most pleasant conditions for searching for gems.

Monroe Park Gold and Gemstone Panning – Great for kids

Children locating gems at Monroe Park Gold and Gemstone Panning

14421 Gold Dust Parkway (off Route 17), Goldvein, VA 22720, United States

Monroe Park Gold and Gemstone Panning is a great family-friendly activity that offers a unique experience of gold and gemstone panning. Gem miners can try their luck by panning for gold and gems in the creek beds or the park’s special prospecting area. You can also take part in guided tours of the park led by experienced guides who will explain the history of mining in the state and teach you how to use their pans properly.

With its rich mining history, Monroe Park provides an exciting opportunity for gem hunters to find their gold or gemstones!

The Types Of Gemstones Found At Monroe Park Gold And Gemstone Panning

This area contains the following interesting gems:

  • Amethyst
  • Citrine
  • Emerald
  • Garnet
  • Quartz
  • Sapphire
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline

The Best Time To Visit Monroe Park Gold And Gemstone Panning

The park is open year-round, but during the summer months, you can enjoy panning for gems and gold in a peaceful and beautiful setting.

Other Great Options For Real Gem Mining in Virginia

A beautiful Kyanite found while real gem mining in Virginia

If you’ve already seen the mining locations we recommended, there are still multiple other outstanding areas to do real gem mining in Virginia. Listed below are places for experienced gem miners looking for more active mines.

  • Alberene Soapstone Quarry – Apatite, Actinolite, Dolomite
  • American Rutile Quarry – Anatase, Blue Quartz, Garnet, Rutile, Sphene
  • Ashland Mill – Amazonite, Kyanite, Moonstone
  • Axton Pegmatite Mining District – Beryl, Feldspar, Garnet, Kyanite, Smoky Quartz, Tourmaline
  • Buck Mountain Creek – Agate
  • Chestnut Mountain – Garnet, Quartz, Tourmaline
  • Dark Hollow Mine – Azurite, Cuprite, Epidote, Serpentine
  • Fancy Hill – Amethyst, Quartz
  • Hanks Knob – Garnet, Pyrite, Quartz, Rutile
  • Hurricane Knob – Kyanite
  • Potomac River – Apatite, Specularite, Tourmaline
  • Red Hill Quarry – Epidote, Microline, Unakite
  • Rose River – Epidote, Jasper, Quartz, Unakite
  • Sayler’s Creek – Amethyst, Quartz
  • Tye River Gap – Beryl, Epidote, Quartz, Unakite
  • Walker Mountain Cluster – Agate, Quartz 
  • Wreck Island Creek – Chrysocolla

The Top Public Gem Mining Locations in Virginia

Kids doing public gem mining in Virginia

If you’re searching for a place to visit with your family or to have a firsthand experience of gemstone mining, various choices are still available. Listed below are the finest places for public gem mining in Virginia that are suitable for kids and families, where they can take home the precious gemstones found here.

Virginia Gem Mining Laws And Regulations

In Virginia, recreational gem hunting is allowed in many areas of the state. Prospectors must obtain a permit from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) before engaging in recreational gem hunting activities.

The state requires that all prospectors use non-mechanical methods to collect gems. This includes hand-digging or surface collecting only. The use of any mechanized equipment or explosives is strictly prohibited. In addition, prospectors must obtain a permit before entering any mine or quarry on state lands and follow all safety regulations set forth by the DMME.

To learn more about the state’s gem mining laws and regulations, visit the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) link above.

Additional places to mine for gems in nearby states

When you’ve already been to each of the areas we listed above, have a look at the guides we developed for our suggested spots to mine for gems in the surrounding 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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