Are you a rockhound looking for a new place to explore? If so, you should put the Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine in Montana on your list!
This is just one of many locations in Montana filled with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.
This article will provide some important information on Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine before you start your journey, as well as ten tips to make the most of your trip!
Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine (Montana): 7 Insider Tips
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
What You Should Know About Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine
The Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine is located off of Highway 38 in Granite County, Montana, and is about an hour’s drive from Missoula.
There are two separate locations for the Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine – the actual working mine in Granite County and the “downtown” location in Philipsburg.
The downtown location is where you will find the office, gift shop, and museum.
It is also where you can purchase your mining supplies and complete an indoor wash with the same materials you would find at the working mine.
The Granite County location is where the actual sapphire mining takes place.
Tip 1: Book Your Reservation in Advance
While it can be tempting to just show up at Gem Mountain on the day you want to mine, it’s important to book your reservation in advance.
This is especially true if you are planning on visiting during the peak season (July and August). You can make your reservation online by paying the $40 booking fee.
This is a new practice, so it may be subject to change, but as of right now, reservations are only needed for those who plan on mining at the Granite County location.
If you just want to visit the downtown Philipsburg location, a reservation is not required.
However, space is limited, and customers will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.
Tip 2: Determine Which Location is Best for You
As mentioned above, there are two separate locations for Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine – the actual working mine in Granite County and the “downtown” location in Philipsburg. If you are unsure of which location would be best for you, here is a brief overview of each:
The downtown location is located in the historic town of Philipsburg.
This is where visitors can view stunning displays, try their hand at indoor panning, and shop for unique sapphire jewelry.
The Philipsburg location is open year-round, though it is closed on major holidays.
The Granite County location is a working mine where visitors can dig for their own sapphires.
Considered a historical attraction, the mine is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
This is a great attraction for both beginner and experienced rockhounds, as well as families looking for an outdoor adventure.
Tip 3: Come Prepared
When visiting Gem Mountain, it is important to come prepared. This includes dressing for the weather and bringing all of the necessary supplies.
The climate in Montana can be unpredictable, so it is always a good idea to dress in layers. Be sure to bring a jacket, even if you are visiting during the summer months.
It is also a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes, as the terrain can be uneven.
You should also bring your glasses if you need them, as well as sunscreen and a hat. Those who rely on glasses may have an easier time locating sapphires if they use them.
You can bring a picnic-style lunch and water with you to the mine, though there is a small selection of food available for patrons.
All mining supplies are provided by Gem Mountain staff, so there is no need to bring any heavy equipment to search for your gems.
Tip 4: Consider Camping if You Don’t Live Close to the Mine
One unique option that is available at the Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine is camping.
The mine has a campground on site for free, and it is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are only six camping sites in total, with four being suitable for large RVs or trailers.
Each site comes equipped with a fire pit and small table, as well as water from a communal sink located near the central flagpole.
There are also bathroom facilities available near the parking lot.
One thing campers should know is that there is no firewood provided. You will need to bring your own or purchase it from one of the local businesses.
Tip 5: Bring a Change of Clothes
One of the most important things visitors should do is bring a change of clothes.
This is especially important for those who are planning on mining at the Granite County location.
The reason for this is that you will likely get wet and dirty while mining. It is also a good idea to leave your valuables, such as jewelry and watches, in the car.
If you are only visiting the mine for the day and have to travel back home, having a dry set of clothes to change into can make the trip back more comfortable.
Tip 6: Learn About the VIP Packages
Gem Mountain offers two different VIP packages for those traveling with large groups or those who want a more exclusive experience.
These VIP-exclusive sections of the mine can accommodate up to 12 people and provides a gazebo with a sunshade for your group.
The VIP packages include a gravel bucket, cooler with ice, bottled water for each guest, private restroom facilities, a small grill for cooking, and permitted use of alcohol.
VIP packages must be purchased in advance and prices can range from $150 to $500 depending on the section and time reserved.
Tip 7: Learn What to Do With Your Gems
After your visit to Gem Mountain, you may be wondering what to do with your newly found sapphires.
There are options onsite for heat treating and faceting to help preserve your sapphires.
You can also take your sapphires to a local jeweler or have them shipped off to be cut and polished.
If you are looking for a unique option, there are also companies that will create custom jewelry using your sapphires.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect on your visit to Gem Mountain get out there and start mining for some beautiful sapphires!
Don’t forget to follow the tips listed above to help make the most of your experience.