Dig This! Rockhounding in New York

by Sandra Foyt on May 24, 2010

in Enrichment Ideas, Outdoors with Kids

herkimer Little kids love to collect rocks, even if it’s just a piece of gravel.  Even older kids get a kick out of working the gemstone mining station found at Howe Caverns, High Falls Gorge, and many theme parks.

Why not capitalize on that interest to introduce children to geology while scoring some nifty treasures prospecting at a real working quarry?

Rockhounds in New York have several options for gem mining at fee dig sites.

Gem Mining for Herkimer Diamonds

They’re actually quartz crystals, but they sparkle like the real thing.  And, if you’re lucky, you might find one big enough to turn into pendent or paperweight.

Herkimer Diamond Mines and KOA Kampground –  Located 1.5 hours from Albany.

  • Prospecting Admission Rates:$11.00/Adults; $9.00/Ages 5-12; Free/Ages 0-4.
  • Fee Includes:All-day Prospecting; Informational video; Museum admission; Use of hammer; Zip-lock Collector’s bags.
  • Go for the day, or plan a vacation at the KOA Campground.
  • Group programs can be arranged a la carte, or take advantage of summer camps, home school outings, leadership programs, and Girl Scout or Boy Scout Camporees.


Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground – Located 1.5 hours from Albany.

Ace of Diamonds Mine and Campground – Located 1.75 hours from Albany.

  • Prospecting Admission Rates: $9.50/8-Older; $4.50/Ages 7-Younger.
  • Fee Includes: All-day prospecting.
  • Prospecting tools are available for rental.

Barton Garnet

Gem Mining for Barton Garnets

The Barton garnet is the New York State Gem Stone.  This rare garnet, found only on Gore Mountain, has “an unusual and beautiful ruby red color that flashes in the sun.”

Garnet Mine Tours – Located 1.25 hours from Albany.

  • Prospecting Admission Rates: $11.95/Adults; $7.95/Ages 7-14; Free/Ages 0-6; Seniors $10.95. Any rock and gemstones collected on tour are a dollar per pound.
  • Fee Includes:All-day Prospecting; Guided tour describing the history and geology of the Garnet Mine and how to find your own Garnet Gemstone; Gem cutting demonstrations.
  • Nearby Attractions: Natural Stone Bridge & Caves; Upper Hudson River Railroad.

Before You Go

  • Pack: Water, Sunscreen, Bug Spray, Eye Protection, Collection Bag/Bucket, Tools (They’re usually available to rent, but if you can, bring a hammer & chisel & gloves for each prospector.)  Oh, and if you’re kids are anything like mine, you might want to remind them to wear shoes!

Rockhounding Library

Rockhounding Resources

Rockhounding Beyond New York:

 You might like:

| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

Walter Streng February 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm

It’s always fun rockhounding for crystals and minerals, but City kids (whether they are in Albany, Buffalo, New York City or any other city in NYS), don’t often get out to the country where they can find rocks and crystals in nature. If your readers happen to be in New York City, they might want to visit ROCK STAR CRYSTALS, a kid- friendly rock shop in the heart of Manhattan in NYC. They have thousands of crystals and minerals (over 140 different ones from around the world) stacked ceiling to floor in their small shop at reasonable prices. They are open everyday from 1PM to 7PM and you can call them at 212 675 3065 or go to http://www.rockstarcrystalsmanhattan.com Happy Hunting!

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: