Mountain Jewels Tour
Travel 226 North to Spruce Pine, The Gem Capital of the World! The Spruce Pine Mining District is the most important mining district in the world due to it being the home to the purest quartz in the world! Every computer chip in the world has a piece of Spruce Pine quartz in it!
Begin your visit at the North Carolina Museum of Minerals, a National Park Service Museum on Highway 226 in Spruce Pine. The renovated museum features Smithsonian quality exhibits that tell the story of mining and minerals in Western North Carolina. The museum features many interactive hands on exhibits that kids of all ages will enjoy. The Museum is free to the public and is open seven days a week. (Check for hours/availability on holidays)
Continue your Mountain Jewels tour at one of the many gem mining locations in the area for a time of finding treasures that will last a lifetime. Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine has been featured on the Travel Channel as well as the Learning Channel as one of America’s top places to find treasure! Many gem mines feature special exhibits, gift shops and snack shops. Rio Doce Gem Mine in Spruce Pine is owned by Jerry Call, a world class gemologist who has cut stones and created jewelry for Elizabeth Taylor and other celebrities.
A quick jaunt up the Parkway to Little Switzerland will allow you to enjoy Emerald Village Gemstone Mine and The Emerald Mines. Emerald Village is home to seven real mines and has been featured on The Travel Channel. You can also explore the North Carolina Mining Museum and take an underground tour of the historic Bon Ami Mines. The Emerald Mine is a real gem mine dig site where visitors can try their luck at finding a treasure.
If a little adventure is more your style, then check out Gem Mountain’s real mine trips where you receive personally guided tours. Dig in mine tailings and keep what you find. Absolutely safe for family groups. Learn how to identify minerals and the geology and history of the Spruce Pine Mining District!
If your visit takes you to the area during August, don’t miss the NC Mineral and Gem Festival the first weekend in August. This Festival is one of the longest running of its kind and celebrates over 50 years of hosting the event in Spruce Pine. Your visit to the Festival will experience aisles and aisles of glittering jewels, minerals, fossils and more. You can also take in a mine tour to one of the area’s working mines.
Geology plays a big part in forming the many famous gemstones and minerals found in this area. One geological formation to visit is Roan Mountain in Bakersville. Following Highway 226 from Spruce Pine to Bakersville, then Highway 261 to Roan Mountain, you will take in the world’s largest naturally occurring RhododendronGarden in the World! Hundreds of acres of rhododendron taller than you will bloom in a jaw dropping display every year in June! Unwind here with a picnic lunch with a view! For the hiking enthusiasts, the Appalachian Trail crosses just across the road from the Roan Mountain entrance.