Idaho September 24, 2017
The Only Place In The Country You Can Find This Incredibly Rare Gem Is Right Here In Idaho
Everybody knows Idaho is called the Gem State, but few know exactly why. Well, our state is one of the largest producers of precious gems in the country. But the most unique gem — which happens to be our designated “state gem” — is the star garnet. This rare gem is only found in two places in the entire world: Idaho and India. But wait, there’s more. You can even dig up your own garnets and take them home!
Star garnets are named from a unique property they have which causes some garnets to display a reflection of a four or six pointed star. You can dig for your own precious gems in a location near St. Maries in the Idaho panhandle.
People travel from all over the world for a chance to take home some of these incredibly rare gems. Whether you visit for the thrills of gem digging or for the slight chance that you might strike it big, this is an unforgettable activity that you can't get anywhere else in the country.
Emerald Creek Garnet Area is a family friendly dig site in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Surprisingly few Idahoans are aware that you can dig for treasure right here in Idaho!
To get to the dig site, follow Highway 3 south from St. Maries for approximately 24 miles. From there, follow Road 447 and you'll eventually come upon the parking area.
Once you arrive at the site, you'll be asked to pay a fee of $10 — a small pricee to pay considering you could get rich! Once you park, you'll hike a small distance to where the gems are.
On top of the fact that you'll be going home with (hopefully) a bag full of gems, you're also spending the day in an absolutely beautiful part of Idaho's wilderness. You're in the middle of the forest, where pine trees loom over you like giants.
The site contains two large sluice boxes, where you'll wash material taken from a stockpiled source of garnet-filled gravels.
Until recently, gem hunters (or "rockhounds") had to bring their own equipment and dig into stream beds to find garnets. However, the Forest Service deemed this practice as environmentally unfriendly since it muddied the water substantially. The new method is much better for the environment — and just as fun.
People of all ages can enjoy this cheap and thrilling activity. The $10 you pay up front allows you to take home up to five pounds of garnets. If you find that you want to take home even more, you can purchase additional permits allowing you to do so.
Don't forget to pack a picnic so you can turn this unique activity into an all-day adventure!
The garnets vary in size. Some are the shape and size of sand particles or small pebbles. Others can look like golf balls, or even bigger!
Be picky about the ones you take home. Star garnets can go for $100 or more per carat, depending on the quality.
Even if you don't get rich, it's the experience that becomes valuable. These gems are such a unique part of what makes Idaho such a great place to live, and it's the time spent with loved ones looking for them that makes this outing such a memorable one.
For more information on where to find the dig site, the times of year they are open, and other details, visit the Forest Service website
Have you gone garnet “hunting?” Did you know this was a thing? Idaho is full of geologic wonders! Be sure to check out our article on one of the
Oddest Geologic Wonders In Idaho.