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Off the Beaten Path: Hiddenite, North Carolina

By Edited Mar 18, 2016 3 6
Rough Gemstones and Minerals Mining in Hiddenite North Carolina
Credit: BuzzFarmers http://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzfarmers/7318388024/

If you are looking for a quiet area to spend some time with your loved ones, Hiddenite is a wonderful place to let the day drift by. Off the beaten path but remaining within a reasonable driving distance to other major North Carolina areas of interest, Hiddenite is a perfect spot to escape the crowds. Hiddenite is located in Alexander County, North Carolina, and was originally named White Plains. It was later changed to Hiddenite for William Earl Hidden who discovered the gemstone deemed "hiddenite" in local mines in 1879.[1]

Hiddenite is host to a variety of events throughout there year, but the most popular reason people flock to the area is to visit Emerald Hollow Mine.


Emerald Hollow Mine[2]

For the love of discovery and nature, there's the Emerald Hollow Mine.  My family absolutely loves this mine, and we go there frequently.  It is generally not too overcrowded, the prices are great, and there is something for all members of your family. The mine boasts more than 63 different types of gems and minerals just waiting for you to discover them. Unlike most gem mines that put you at a sluicing station sifting through buckets of material all day, Emerald Hollow Mine has a variety of ways to search for gems and minerals.


Sluicing is when you stand or sit at a sluiceway (think of it like a mini controlled river) with a screen sifter and you sift through a bucket of material picking out the gems and minerals you find. This is the only option you will find at many gem mines. Emerald Hollow Mine features a covered sitting sluiceway with a variety of buckets designed to fit every budget. You will get one bucket of material included with your $5.00 sluicing admission fee. Additional buckets may be purchased with prices ranging from $5.00 to $1000.00.


Next is creeking (our favorite thing to do at the mine). The mine has a beautiful, peaceful creek that flows gently through the mine. The water is clear and fairly shallow, rarely more than knee deep. You can simply walk the creek looking for gems and minerals or you can use your creeking tools (you will need to rent these) to sift through the material in the creek. The creeking fee is $10.00. This gives you access to the creek plus it includes the sluicing fee with the complimentary bucket of material. Creek tool rental is $2.00 more, however, there is a $5.00 deposit required for the tools. When you return the tools, $3.00 of your deposit will be returned to you.


Finally, there's digging. While you can find plenty of gems and minerals creeking and sluicing, digging tends to be where the large finds have been discovered. If you don't want the hard work of digging, you can still search the surface in the mining areas for treasures that may have been missed by others. Digging is $20.00 and gives you access to the mining area in addition to the creek and sluice with one bucket of material included. Digging tools are rented for $5.00 with a $10.00 required deposit. $5.00 of your deposit will be refunded when you return your digging tool set.

Lapidary Services

Emerald Hollow Mine also provides Lapidary services. Finding gems and minerals in their natural, rough state can be beautiful on their own, but imagine having those rough stones cut, polished, and mounted into wonderful pieces of jewelry that you will treasure even more because you discovered the stone. The full service shop is staffed with professional gemologists that can assist you with identifying and choosing the stones that are your best specimens for jewelry pieces. Their prices for these services are great, but if you decide you want to cut and polish your gems yourself, they've got you covered because you can purchase the equipment needed from them as well.

For home decor DIY projects using your gemstones, read this article.

Additional Information

Operating Hours:
8:30am to Sunset
Open every day, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day

Educational Trips are available with reservation required.


Arrive early. Some of our best treasures and largest loot bags have come from arriving early.

Wear clothing and shoes that you don't care about getting dirty because you will get dirty. We always bring extra clothing to change into when we are done for the day and bags to put our dirty clothes in. You should also consider bringing some towels, sunscreen and bug repellant.

Consider packing a lunch in a cooler and keep it in your vehicle. We've been to the mine several times and once they had things like hot dogs and drinks, but we are unsure if it was made into a permanent addition to things offered at the mine. Packing a lunch or snacks allows you more time at the mine and more time usually equals more treasures. When you take a break to eat, there are plenty of places to sit down and enjoy your meal. You can take a seat in a shaded area, you can stay at your car, there are small ponds where you can watch the wildlife, and the mine also has a covered picnic area with tables that they don't mind you using as long as they don't have a tour group on site or one coming in. Please be sure to clean up after yourself, no litterbugs.

When creeking be mindful of where you walk. While the water is usually never more than knee deep, some enthusiastic miners may dig an area deep and forget to fill it back in. It is preferred to not dig deeply in the creek, but if you do, please fill in the hole when you are finished in that spot. Also, please do not dig into the side banks of the creek. It disturbs the root systems of the vegetation and can speed up erosion.

Finally, do not go beyond the barriers set up at the mine. Adjacent property is privately owned by others, so be respectful and do not trespass.

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Sep 12, 2013 11:24pm
Searching for fine gems and minerals is a great family activity. Thumbs up for your article with many good tips.
Sep 13, 2013 8:57am
I love gem mining and this mine is the best I've come across to date.
Sep 13, 2013 10:53pm
Sounds like a great place to explore. We went opal mining a few years ago, it was fun but did not get rich on the little bits we found but still fun. Although our old bones argued about having to do the searching. great article.
Sep 14, 2013 8:32am
Not sure about getting rich, we've never had any of our finds valued. There have been some very large finds at this mine before. We just have ours displayed around our home. I've heard there are some tourmaline mines in Utah that produce a good chunk of cash.
Oct 24, 2013 8:12am
I loved this article. F or one thing it is informative and entertaining but also because it brings so many memories back to me--I am an old rock hound that spent many years collecting rocks and prospecting the Rockies. Those were the best years of my life and I miss them.
Thanks for a great piece--2 big thumbs up and a rating.
Oct 26, 2013 3:06pm
The overview you give of the Emerald Hollow Mine is the kind that could only be given by someone who's personally been there, which makes it all the richer. Including the tips was a nice touch. No doubt that many visitors will find them useful.
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  1. "Hiddenite, North Carolina." Wikipedia. 5/09/2013 <Web >
  2. "Home Page." Hiddenite Gems, Inc. Emerald Hollow Mine. 5/09/2013 <Web >

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