The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains

The Online Version of the Best-selling Regional Guidebook
 

All about rain forests of the world

Rock Hounding
&
Gem Hunting

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  Twin emeralds found in Western North Carolina 

    The mountains of Western North Carolina are one of the richest areas in the United States for gemstones and minerals. Two of the more popular gemstone areas in the mountains are centered around Franklin in the West and Spruce Pine in the east. There are close to 40 different minerals that rock hounds look for in the mountains. Corundum, beryl, moonstone, garnet, olivine, quartz, opal, amethyst, emeralds, jasper, ruby, sapphires, spinel, turquoise, chrysoprase and zircon are among the most sought after. And gold is still found occasionally in some of the streams.
    A very popular attraction are the gemstone mines, open to the public, where you may sift through buckets of dirt to discover any treasure. Most mines sell gem dirt in a bucket or bag (few allow digging) and you may have to pay an admission fee for the day. You are provided with a screen for washing and there is a flume - a trough of running water - with a bench along its length. The dirt goes in the screen, the screen goes in the water and t
he mud is washed away. Depending on the mine, the buckets provided are either native ore or enriched with ore from other countries.
     For serious rock hounds, the best resource available in planning your visit to the mountains is MAGMA Mountain Area Gem and Mineral Association (www.wncrocks.com, 828-779-4501). There are privately owned mines in the mountains where you may collect for modest daily fees but you need to plan in advanced. Two of these Crabtree Emerald Mine in Spruce Pine and Little Pine Garnet Mine in Madison County.
    A great place to see gems in Asheville is the Colburn Earth Science Museum at Pack Place. Also fairly close to Asheville is the Museum of North Carolina Minerals at milepost 331 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  In the Hendersonville area is the newly opened Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Henderson County.  The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum in Franklin has interesting exhibits also of regional minerals and gemstones. 

 

Quick Jumps to cities & towns that have gem mines. 
 
Brasstown
Boone
Canton
Foscoe
Franklin
Jefferson
Hendersonville
Hiddenite
Little Switzerland
Spruce Pine
Union Mills

                                          Gem Mines      Gem Shops
 
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Resources
Henderson County Gem & Mineral Society PO Box 6391, Hendersonville NC 28793
MAGMA -Mountain Area Gem and Mineral Association PO Box 542, Leicester NC 28748; 828-683-1048
North Carolina Geological Survey  Division of Land Resources, 1612 Mail Center, Raleigh NC 27699; 919-733-2423
Southern Appalachian Mineral Society PO B ox 15461, Asheville NC 28813; 828-285-9470
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston VA 20192; 888-275-8747

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Museums & Mineral Centers
Colburn Earth Science Museum 2 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC 28801; 828-254-7162
Emerald Village 331 McKinney Mine Road, Spruce Pine NC 28777; 828-765-6463
Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum 25 Phillips St., Franklin, NC 28734; 828-369-7831
Hiddenite Center 316 Church Street, Hiddenite, NC 28636; 828-632-6966
Linville Caverns Highway 19929 US Highway221 North, Marion NC 28752; 800-419-0540

Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Henderson County 400 N. Main Street, Hendersonville NC 28792; 828-698-1977
Museum of North Carolina Minerals Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 331, Spruce Pine; 828-765-2761
North Carolina Mining Museum 331 McKinney Mine Road, Spruce Pine NC 28777; 828-765-6463
Ruby City Gems Museum 130 East Main Street, Franklin NC 28734; 828-524-3967

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Gem Mines  & Prospecting Sites

Brasstown
Mason Farm Staurolite Prospect
About:
Site for rock hounds to collect the mineral staurolite, also known as "fairy crosses".  
Address:
Brasstown, NC
Telephone: 828-778-4501 (MAGMA)
Travel Time From Asheville: 2-21/2 hours west.


Boone

Foggy Mountain Gem Mine
About:
Mostly imported gem ore from Brazil
Address:
4416 Highway 105 South, Boone NC 28607
Telephone: 828-963-4367
Travel Time From Asheville: 2-21/2 hours west.


River and Earth Adventures, Inc Gem Mine
About:
90% imported gem ore from Brazil, some from local mines
Address:
1655 Highway 105, Boone NC 28607
Telephone: 800-411-7238, 828-963-5491
Travel Time From Asheville: 2-21/2 hours west.

Canton
Old Pressley Sapphire Mine
About: World's largest blue star sapphires were found at this mine. Only native gemstone ore.
Address:
240 Old Pressley Mine Road, Canton NC 28716
Telephone: 828-648-6320
Travel Time From Asheville: 45 minutes west.

Foscoe
The Greater Foscoe Mining Co.
About: Indoor and outdoor flume gem mining.  Native gem ore enriched with imported.
Address: 8998 Highway 105 South, Foscoe NC 28604
Telephone: 828-963-5928
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours east

Franklin
Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine
About: Only native gemstone ore from the Cowee Valley.
Address: 41 Cherokee Mine Road, Franklin NC 28734
Telephone: 828-349-2941
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours west

Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine
About: Native and imported gem ore .
Address: 6771 Sylva Road, Franklin NC 28734
Telephone: 828-369-5271
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours west

Gem Mine at Gem World
About: Imported gem ore only from five different countries.
Address: 1884 Georgia Road, Franklin NC 28734
Telephone: 828-349-5411
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours west

Gold City Gem Mine
About: Native and imported gem ore, gold panning.
Address: 9410 Sylva Road, Franklin NC 28734
Telephone: 800-713-7767, 828-369-3905
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours west

Mason's Ruby & Sapphire Mine
About: Native gem ore where you dig your dirt from their own mine. 
Address: 6961 Upper Burningtown Road, Franklin NC 28734
Telephone: 828-369-9742
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours west

Mason Mountain Mine & Cowee Gift Shop
About: Native gem ore where you dig your dirt from their own mine. Also enriched buckets with imported ore.
Address: 5315 Bryson City Road, Franklin NC 28734
Telephone: 828-524-4570
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours west

Rose Creek Mine
About: Native gem ore where you dig your own dirt from their own mine.
Address: 115 Terrace Ridge Drive, Franklin NC 28734
Telephone: 828-349-3774
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours west

Sheffield Mine
About: Native ruby and sapphire gem ore from their own mine.
Address: 385 Sheffield Farms Road, Franklin NC 28734
Telephone: 828-369-8383
Travel Time From Asheville: 2 hours west

Hendersonville
Elijah Mountain Gem Mine
About:
Imported gem ore only.
Address: 2120 Brevard Road, Hendersonville NC 28739
Telephone: 828-693-3123
Travel Time From Asheville: 30 minutes south
 

Hiddenite
Emerald Hollow Mine
About: Native gem ore, including emeralds, from their own mine.
Address:
484 Emerald Hollow Mine Drive, Hiddenite NC 28636
Telephone: 866-600-4367
Travel Time From Asheville: 1 -11/2 hours east

Jefferson
Gem Valley NC
About: Native gem ore, some imported
Address:
2489 Little Peak Creek Road, Jefferson NC 28640
Telephone: 336-982-5177
Travel Time From Asheville: 3 hours east

The Lucky Strike Gold and Gem Mine
About: Native and imported gem ores, gold panning in the Second Broad River. Campground.
Address:
251 Lucky Strike Lane, Marion NC 28752
Telephone: 828-738-4893
Travel Time From Asheville: 1 hour east

Little Switzerland:
The Emerald Mine of Little Switzerland
About: Native and imported gem ore, two dig sites.
Address: 74 George Street off of McKinney Mine Road, Little Switzerland NC 28749
Telephone: 828-765-6832
Travel Time From Asheville: 1 -11/2 hours east

Spruce Pine:
Emerald Village
About: Native gem ore from their mine and other area mines.
Address:
331 McKinney Mine Road, Spruce Pine NC 28777
Telephone: 828-765-6463, 828-765-0000
Travel Time From Asheville: 1 -11/2 hours east

Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine
About: Covered flumes. Gem ore brought in daily from mines.
Address: Highway 226, Spruce Pine NC 28777
Telephone: 888-817-5829
Travel Time From Asheville: 1 -11/2 hours east

Rio Doce Gem Mine
About: Native and imported (Brazil) gem ore
Address: 14622 Highway 226 South, Spruce Pine NC 28777
Telephone: 828-765-2099
Travel Time From Asheville: 1 -11/2 hours east

Spruce Pine Gemstone Mine
About: Native gem ore from local gem mines.
Address: 15090 Highway 226 South, Spruce Pine NC 28777
Telephone: 828-765-7981
Travel Time From Asheville: 1 -11/2 hours east

Union Mills
Thermal City Gold Mine
About: Panning for gold from ore from their site. Gem ore from native and imported sources.
Address: 5240 US Highway 221 North, Union Mills NC 28167
Telephone: 828-286-3016
Travel Time From Asheville: 1 -11/2 hours southeast

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Gem Shops

Asheville
The Silver Armadillo
West Gate Shopping Center, Asheville NC; 828-253-3020

Franklin
Cowee Gift Shop 5315 Bryson City Road, 828-524-4570
Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine & Gift Shop 6771 Sylva Road, Franklin NC 28734, 828-369-571
Franklin Gemstone & Jewelry Warehouse 3002 Georgia Road, Franklin NC 28734, 828-524-6132

Gold City Jewelry & Gem Shop 9410 Sylva Road, Franklin NC 28734, 828-369-3905
Ruby City Gems & Minerals 130 East Main Street, Franklin NC 28734; 828-524-3967
Tari's RokGem 1884 Georgia Road, Franklin NC 28734; 828-349-5411

 

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