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

Posted By shoutabout,Date: 06.20.2008

Unleash the “Indiana Jones” in you and go hunt for rubies, saphires and even gold in Franklin, NC less than an hour drive from Oconee and Devils Fork State Parks 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.

Some of the highlighhts

Cowee Mtn Ruby Mine and Shop – this is where the 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 kiddy souvenir bucket
• The whole thing goes by pretty quickly. We finished in about 15 minutes (we got the souvenir enriched one)
• More info at or by phine (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 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 or by phone (828)-369-8383. Address 385 Sheffield Farms Road. Follow the driving directions as noted on their website.

Happy and lucky mining in western North Carolina!

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

    1. » Gold Panning Gem City Gold Mine Franklin NC. Tips, photos, prices and maps with gem mines and fun family attractions around Greenville. »South Carolina Family Attractions, Free, Affordable and Fun Things To Do Says:

      [...] was late afternoon, hotter and steamier than ever. Still in high spirits from our rock hunting Cowee Ruby Mine adventure, we stopped at Gold City Mine to culminate our quest with some good ole gold [...]

    2. Earl Teague Says:

      Don’t believe everything you hear from these gem mines some people will try to sell you the town bridge. Some of the stories these people tell are nothing more than blatant lies. Educate yourself before dropping any money or bring along a jar of vaseline.

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