Next time you decide to go on vacation, think outside the box and forgo a beach and Disney park for something simpler and priceless. Can you imagine everybody digging vacation, literally? Achieving this can be easier than you think and way cheaper then Instagram worthy touristy destinations.
There are mining destinations in virtually every state, but some are simply must-visit. Sure, you will not become millionaires sifting sand for gems and gold, but fun is guaranteed and you'll get to keep what you found for memories. And we are not even talking about great time and traveling back in history.
These are some of the places that should get on your list as soon as coronavirus threat is gone or diminished:
This is where you come for gold and this where people came in troves during the Gold Rush. It doesn't get more real than this. Jamestown's Woods Creek was known widely and sought after. Today you can get in touch with that history with Miner John, who owns the site. He takes groups on a two hour hikes around the mines and talks about that history and about the best panning techniques.
It costs $120 - $160 per family of four and includes two hour lesson and panning with a sluice tray. You will get a pan, a bucket, and a shovel for your shot at gold rush. The place is open year round and gets quite busy during warm months.
This place has gem mining and more. This part of the country owns its beginning to gold, so you can sift for it and pan for it, but don't forget to visit natural caves, which are kids' favorites.
Cool and dark 50 minute walk will introduce you to stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, and rarely seen helictite crystals. Older kids, 8 and above, can also join a 3 hour Labyrinth Tour through above ground rock formations. They will slip, slide, crawl, and climb to their heart's content.
This is the birth place of Gold Rush and should definitely be visited. Yes, you can pan for gold there, but it's even more important to touch the living history. The sleepy town of Coloma was once a booming Wild West with 10,000 people living there and dreaming about gold day in and day out.
Gold Discovery Museum is not to miss in addition to historic buildings dated all the way back to 1849. You can take some hikes and enjoy shady banks along the American River, which was the source and center of Gold Rush.
This is another must see for all Gold Rush aficionados. While you won't go on sifting adventure here, you will be able to see closely what it really took to mine for gold and what riches it brought to some. The site is America's oldest, biggest, deepest, and richest mine, where so much gold was found that it would fill 3x3x3 meter box.
The mine occupied 5 square miles area with 367 miles of networks under the ground. Once you grasp the sheer size and dangerous conditions there, visit the mansion of mine's manager William Bowers Bourn Jr. and see what inequality was all about. This visit will leave you with deeper understanding of our history and appreciation of miners who risked it all.
You can find diamonds and over 40 other gems and minerals here. Yes, we said diamonds! While you most likely won't find a diamond fit for an engagement ring, this place is an ancient volcano, so anything is possible. Come after a good rain and you will be able to find gems just lying on the ground.
The site contains a discovery center, where you will be advised how diamonds in the rough look and then released into 37 acre plowed field to look for your treasures. There is also a water park on the premises, which is open in summer only. The rest of the park is open all the time.
You will need to have your own shovel, screen, and a bucket, or you can rent all that starting at $8. Mining adventure costs $7 per adult and $4 for kids of ages 6-12.
Here you can find Herkimer diamonds, which are quartz crystals that look like cut diamonds. You can dig around in two pit mines or get bold and work rock walls with a hammer and chisel, where you'll have a high chance to find pockets of crystals.
Safety googles are advised and can be brought, rented, or bought. The same goes for hammers, screens, and shovels. The mine also has camping and cabin rentals and is open from April to October.
Tickets cost $10 per adult and $8 for kids ages 4-14.
This place is the only emerald mine in the country that is open to public. In addition to emeralds, you can also find sapphires, aquamarines, topazes, and many other gems.
The mine is close to Blue Ridge Parkway and has surface fields for kids and creeks for more serious panning or sluicing through dirt. The needed equipment is pretty simple – a shovel, a screen, and a bucket. You can rent all of that.
It costs $5 for sluicing, $10 for sluicing and creeking, and $20 for sluicing, creeking, and digging. You can enjoy those activities any time of the year.
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