Deep in the dark, dense forests of Northern Idaho, a small clearing marks one of two unique areas in the world where star garnets are found. This particular species of garnet contains a higher amount of magnesium than other garnets, therefore appearing as black nuggets in the dirt, but when held to a bright light source, reveal a deep purple color. The asterism, or star, results from light reflecting off needle-like inclusions of rutile (titanium dioxide.)
After arriving at the Emerald Creek Garnet Area, a half mile hike through tranquil forests of pine, and fir trees, leads to a clearing in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest where garnet hunters dig, sift and wash their small treasures before weighing and taking them home. The Forest Service collects a nominal fee from each participant, and in return provides shovels, buckets and a sluice. Many families pack a lunch and spend an entire day getting their hands dirty scouring through buckets of earth for this unique gemstone.
Pockets of purple garnet sand, found along Emerald Creek, can be collected, but only by hand. No tools or instruments of any type are allowed in the mining of these specimens.
Further Information:Latitude : 46.996765 Longitude : -116.364662 Fees: $10.00 Adult, $5.00 Children OPEN: Friday through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CLOSED: Wednesday and Thursday Opens each year the Friday before Memorial Day and closes after Labor Day.