Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine was discovered back in 1949. The Hodson family owns and runs the business, with Glen and Donna Hodson as your hosts.
Each year, from Memorial Weekend through mid-September, the mine is available to the public as a pay dig mine.
In the Virgin Valley, there are two types of opal mining experience: tailings digging and virgin ground loads.
Virgin Valley opals are mainly used as specimens and come in a broad range of hues, from colorless to black. Virgin Valley opals have world-class shades.
Where Is Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine?
Rainbow Ridge Opal Mines is at Sage Brush Virgin Valley, NV 89404. In this region of Nevada, services are scarce and far between.
Before departing Lakeview or Winnemucca, be sure you have enough gas.
History Of Rainbow Opal Mine
Around 1905, they discovered opal in the Virgin Valley for the first time. Little was known at first about the lovely stones found.
The frenzy began once the stones were identified as opals. Around 1907, serious opal exploration and mining started.
The Rainbow Ridge Mine has been producing opals for almost a century.
Since 1949, the Hodson family has owned and controlled the mine.
The Roebling opal, which is the Virgin Valley’s most renowned opal, was mined around 1918 and is now in the Smithsonian Institution’s collection in Washington.
The Type Of Opals You Will Find At Rainbow Opal Mine
Virgin Valley opals are generally “specimen only,” as they are incredibly fragile. These opals are rarely cut and used in jewelry because of their fragility.
There are two reasons for this. To begin with, these are relatively young opals, dating back roughly 14 million years.
Second, the opal arose from the Bentonite clay. This clay has an excellent moisture sealer so, it does not drain rapidly.
As a result, the opals have a more extensive water content than those from many other opal-producing regions worldwide.
As a result, the opals haven’t had enough time to dry slowly, allowing them to build strength and stability.
When a Virgin Valley opal is removed from wet clay and allowed to dry, it frequently cracks and crazes!
This shows that most opals remain “wet specimens” that need to be preserved in water. However, the hues created by a Nevada opal are unparalleled.
They form a lovely display piece as wet specimens, and collector’s value them for their colors and wood origin.
The Colors of The Opals From Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine
The Virgin Valley opal comes in various shapes and sizes, some of which are far more uncommon and valuable than others.
The underlying hue of the opal, regardless of color play, is called the base or body color.
It can range from a colorless foundation, similar to water, to a wide range of base hues, including tans, whites, greens, yellows, blacks, brown.
In addition, any of these opals can have a wide range of transparency, from a multi-colored piece to one practically opaque.
Mining Options At Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine
There are two digging options for visitors at Rainbow Bridge Opal Mine.
- The daily cost of digging for tailings is $100.00 per person.
- Children between the ages of 10 and 15 are half price when accompanied by an adult.
- There is no fee for children under the age of ten.
Tailings are materials that have already been mined. They are made using stones hauled out of virgin earth loads mined the day before and digging.
Tailings are an excellent place to start if you’ve never explored with Rainbow Opal Mines.
These tailings date back 50 years, as well as tailings that are only a few days old.
This is because new ground load materials mined the previous day are carried out each morning and put to the tailings.
Tools You Will Need For Opal Tailings Digging
A clod tool and a small rake are required tools, which may be borrowed at the mine’s shop.
In addition, you’ll need a container or bag for dry materials, and for wet opals, you’ll need a small bucket filled with water. Digging in tailings does not require a reservation.
Virgin Ground Loads
- For 1-2 persons, the Virgin Ground Load charge is $700.00 (including under 10-year-olds).
- Each additional adult costs $100.00.
- Reservations are necessary and may only be made over the phone.
- By 8 a.m., you must be at the mining site.
- From April 15th, 2022, bookings will be accepted.
Each morning, virgin ground loads are prepared for the diggers who have requested them.
The load is brand new soil, scooped straight from the bank by an excavator.
A loader picks up a bucket of clay from the pit and transports it to a leveled area where it will be handled.
You’ll be able to park your car next to your road, keeping your equipment and supplies close at hand.
On each load, two adults and little children are allowed. Additional adults may accompany you if you choose, but they must pay the tailings charge.
Things You Will Need To Bring For Virgin Ground Load Digging
Clay clods can be found up to the size of a microwave oven.This material is manipulated by hand using simple hand tools borrowed from the mines tore.
Finally, the clay is broken apart with a clod tool, and the delicate components are sifted through thoroughly.
For this task, a clod tool is far more efficient than a pick and will not harm an opal as much as a pick would.
In addition, a correctly and carefully worked load will keep two individuals occupied for the whole day.
You get access to tailings until quitting time if you finish your load early. To store your opals, you’ll need a bucket filled with water.
Water is provided for your buckets at the rock store. They can assist you in finding a dome that is the right size for your opal.
f time allows, they help you sort and clean your treasures to prepare for the presentation.
In the shop, you will be offered a variety of dome sizes for sale.
Each person digging will require a bucket with a cover. It’s also a good idea to keep a smaller container with a lid on hand for unique items that could be destroyed if thrown into your bucket.
Reservations For Equipment
A steel table is supplied for folks with knee or back problems, so they may work on the materials without stooping or kneeling.
It performs wonderfully and is frequently requested by individuals who have previously tried it.
If you want to utilize the table, you must make a reservation for it while making your digging booking, as it gets booked out quickly.
Materials can be worked on until 4 p.m., after which they become tailings for the following day.
Carry With You
If you are planning a hike where there will be rocks to pick through, consider packing one of the following:
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals (small book with pretty colored pictures to help identification)
- National Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Fossils (small book with pictures)
- Gemstone & Crystals Properties (durable fold-up guide)
- Small UV Flashlight
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You will have a great time during an opal trip to the Rainbow Ridge Opal Mine. Get prepared and book in advance, and don’t forget to fill up your vehicle with plenty of gas.
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