The price of admission is $5, which includes a bucket of rough material from the mine that you can sluice. So... the trip, except for gas, was less expensive than taking the kids to the movies. For another $3 you can go to the creek to look for gems in the stream. For a total of $15 you can sluice, creek, and mine. You can rent tools for a nominal fee. There are picnic tables under the tree by the stream. There are 'enriched' buckets of mine rough that you can purchase for sluicing.
What did we find? Well, first let me tell you what I was expecting. First, I fully anticipated getting lost, but the map was clear and the signs to the mine were obvious. Second, I expected to get gouged financially. Nah... if you buy an enriched bucket I assure you it's an excellent value. I got a $5 ruby/sapphire bucket which contained corundum (though our best pieces came from the creek). I got a $25 beryl bucket which was full of emeralds. Third, I expected no one would be at the mine. I guess someone found a million dollar emerald recently, so it was pretty busy and we actually waited in line to pay admission. That was okay... we found garnets and a small, pretty ruby on the ground waiting to check in.
There were stones for everyone. Pretty colors. Valuable finds. You can find emerald, aquamarine, topaz, garnet, ruby, sapphire, tourmaline, amethyst, quartz, and several other gemstones. You don't have to know what to look for in advance -- the staff and other 'miners' are very helpful. I think the only way you wouldn't enjoy this trip is if you hate the outdoors or else hate getting wet/dirty (you will get dirty). Everyone left with treasures... not just my family, but everyone I saw, incuding the rockhounds who were there for serious mining.
Emerald Hollow Photos | Gemstone Photo Gallery
Photo: Hiddenite is a rare gemstone that can be found in (you guessed it) Hiddenite, NC. It ranges in color from yellow-green to emerald green. (Anne Helmenstine)