“I feel lucky!” gem hunting fun at Cowee Ruby Mine in Franklin (things to do with kids near the border and Foothills Trail)

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. Showing off the prizesIt 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 Getting mining instructionsinstructions 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

Sheffield Mine

• The most famous (featured on the Travel Channel) Huge ametist inside the shop at Cowee 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!

8 Responses

  1. […] mining, drive thru waterfall and rock sliding…sounds like fun? Unleash the “Indiana Jones” in you and go hunt for rubies, sapphires and even gold in Franklin, NC less than an hour drive from Oconee […]

  2. […] • Oconee Historic Station • Hagood Mill and Pickens County Museum • Ruby and sapphire gem hunting in Franklin, NC (less than 1 hour […]

  3. Can you give me directions from Lake Lure, where we will be staying in August.

  4. Hi KT

    It’s about 100 miles from Lake Lure to Franklin. Click on the link below for driving directions from Lake Lure to the Visitors Center in Franklin NC (located on 425 Porter Street).


    Once there, get the brochure and map with all the local mines including the 3 mentioned in my post. They are all within 15 miles give or take. Most likely you will only have time to visit 1, maximum 2.

    Happy travelling and rock hounding!


  5. […] train rides near Franklin) Posted on July 29, 2008 by shoutabout While you’re trying your luck rock hunting and gold panning at the ruby and sapphire gem mines around Franklin why not stop in Dillsboro and reward your loved […]

  6. […] Walhalla historic things to see – Oconee Station, Oconee Heritage Center, St. John Lutheran Church, Tamassee School and Fort George Posted on August 19, 2008 by shoutabout History abounds at every step near Walhalla and the entire Upstate region. Here are some suggestions and the custom Google Map on what to do with kids while vacationing at Oconee State Park. As you can see is not just about incredibly beautiful waterfalls or gem mines hunting! […]

  7. […] Falls These are separate falls located along scenic Hwy 64 between Highlands and Franklin, the NC gem and gold mining star. Yes is the other Carolina but very close to the border and worth shouting about! Bridal Veil is […]

  8. My husband an i would like to do a gem hunt.we would also do a boar hunt can you help us out
    Thank you so much
    Barbara kreger

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