Unleash the “Indiana Jones” in you and go hunting for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC less than an hour drive from Oconee State Park, Caribbean-like Lake Jocassee inside Devils Fork State Park and the adventurous Foothills Trail. Who knows you may be the next “romancing the stone” star!
Tips to know before you go
1. Stop at the Visitors Center in Franklin to get the free “Guide to Rockhounding” little brochure with a map and summary description of all the gem-mines and shops in the area. It really helps plan ahead and will save you time and headaches.
2. Whichever mine you decide to visit, if you have little kids, avoid the drama and get the “enriched, sure find” kid-friendly bucket. It provides them with a rainbow of big and colorful stones they’ll be eager to show off later. At these mines the rubies and sapphires are very small in size and quite dull looking. I almost threw one away, luckily the guy at the flume alerted me about it (and saved my “fortune”!)
3. If you got to Franklin after a long drive and need to unwind stop by the nice Big Bear Park playground on the Little Tennessee River Greenway. It’s conveniently located off of Hwy 64, and allows children to relax before (or after) the big hunt.
Here are the highlights and the customized Google Map with some of the gem mines
Cowee Mtn Ruby Mine and Shop – this is where all these photos are from.
• Free admission. Opened daily 9 AM to 6 PM from March to December 15.
• Free mining instructions and stone identification;
• Gem cutting and mounting on jewelry for extra price.
• $5 for dirt bucket; $10 kid souvenir bucket
• The whole thing goes by pretty quickly. We finished in about 15 minutes (we got the souvenir enriched one)
• More info at www.coweemtnrubymine.com or by phone (828)-369-5271.
Address 6771 Sylva Road Franklin, North Carolina 28734
Jackson Hole Gem Mine and Gift Shop (not the ski resort!)
• Likely the mine with the most scenic location: on Hwy 64 near the Cullasaja Falls and the locals’ favorite rock-sliding and swimming spot.
• Claims to have cleanest mine around “ free from the red clay mud”
• Open all year around
• $10 for the 5 lbs bucket
• Custom mount in 14k gold or sterling silver jewelry
• More info at www.jacksonholegemmine.com or by phone (828)-524-5850. Address 9770 Highlands Road, Highlands, NC 28741
• The most famous (featured on the Travel Channel) and one of the few native mine in the area. It’s also the most crowded. Likely you will need to wait in line to get your turn. Better be there early.
• Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM from April thru October. Last customer for native mining is accepted at 3 PM (it takes 2 hour to do the real thing)
• $15 admission ($10 for children and seniors) includes 2 starter buckets. Group discounts available (requires advance notice)
• More info at www.sheffieldmine.com or by phone (828)-369-8383. Address 385 Sheffield Farms Road. Follow the driving directions as noted on their website.
More Area Attractions
• Highlands Botanical Garden, arts and crafts and Playhouse Theater
• Gold panning (and gem mining) at Gold City Mine located between Franklin and Sylva. May be too tedious task for younger kids.
• Waterfalls – Issaqueena, Whitewater, Table Rock, Raven Cliff, Bridal Veil
• Dillsboro Great Smokey Mountains Railroad - Fun themed train rides
• Dupont Forest State Park – easy access to waterfalls and hiking trails
Happy and lucky mining in western North Carolina!
Filed under: Charlotte, Devils Fork State Park, Greenville, Oconee State Park, Outdoor Activities Tagged: | activities under $15, cheap Carolina vacation, Cowee Ruby Mine photos, Franklin gem hunting, Franklin gem mines, Franklin things to do, gem mining for kids in NC, Highlands things to do, Oconee State Park, rubies and sapphires mining, Sheffield mine, western NC attractions