Rockhounding Tennessee: 9 Gorgeous Locations To Find Unique Treasures

Tennessee is a rock-hounding paradise offering minerals, fossils, and rocks; some of them are of gem quality.

Rock hunters can sometimes see crystals at the soil surface.

Read through this entire article for the best rockhounding in Tennessee locations, directions, and amenities.

Where To Go Rockhounding In Tennessee

Disclaimer

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.

Cooper’s Gem Mine – Various Quartz and Minerals

At Cooper’s Gem Mine in Blountville, TN, whatever you discover is yours!

You might unearth gems and semi-precious stones from Amethyst Quartz to Emeralds and Multi-colored quartz at this popular rockhounding Tennessee location.

This Mine has been providing services to the region for over 25 years.

They utilize a combination of science, geology, and history to teach rock hound enthusiasts of all ages. 

The mining packages at Cooper’s Gem Mine are developed for schools and groups.

Their education package comprises a trip on a barrel train plus a gallon bucket and rock identification for all children at a low price. 

For huge organizations and groups, the teaching packages on gems and minerals, fossils, and even a volcanic demo are highly detailed. 

The good times don’t stop there! On their website and Facebook page, there’s a lot of coloring and activity sheets to help reinforce what the kids/guests have learned. 

During the tour break, you get an opportunity to see a parody video featuring fossils and rocks.

This Mine is an authentic gem tucked away in the Eastern Tennessee highlands. 

What The Tour Offers

A complete mining and treasure hunting experience is offered here.

You select your bucket size from a variety of options and embark on what may be the most incredible rockhounding Tennessee experience of your life.

Their buckets come in various sizes and at different costs to suit any budget.

They always have knowledgeable personnel on hand to instruct miners on panning and identifying their gemstones. 

Discover minerals and gems and become the latest Cooper’s Gem Mine legend.

We hope you will visit us soon so you may experience mining and treasure hunting firsthand.

Amenities include bathroom facilities and picnic tables and benches for birthday parties.

Participants will be given the resources and tools they need to execute each exciting activity in each package.

And, as is customary, miners keep all of the diamonds they uncover!

Birthday Rockhounding

Party hosts should be aware that all the tools for sluicing, mine ore buckets, collection bags, and garbage bags are furnished for all parties.

The party host is responsible for all tableware, cutlery, and food (unless otherwise noted). There is a refrigerator and a freezer to use. Remember to bring your camera!

Opening hours: Monday – Friday. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m .; Saturday 12 – 5 p.m. Closed between November 1 and February 29 each year.

There is an RV Park and campground close by as well as multiple attractions.

Tennessee River & Cannon County – Pearls and Geodes

Tennessee as a whole is an excellent rock-hounding paradise.

Still, when contemplating where to find geodes in Tennessee, two significant areas are the Tennessee River for wonderful Pearls and Cannon County to get lovely Geodes.

Natural pearling has a long history in North America because of the country’s diversified and abundant freshwater mussel resources. Tennessee is no different!

Freshwater pearls are Tennessee’s state gemstone.

Tennessee’s freshwater pearls can be found in the various freshwater rivers, streams, and tributaries throughout the state.

Many of the state’s rivers have natural freshwater pearls.

Take a walk along the riverbanks when looking for freshwater pearls. 

Mussels can be difficult to notice due to their excellent camouflage and ability to mix in with the sand and muck at the river’s bottom.

First and foremost, check the weather to ensure there isn’t a storm forming, as going near the river would be perilous.

Locate the shallowest place.

Be prepared to do some digging. While geodes can be found resting on the ground, some may be hidden underneath layers of dirt or other rocks. 

Expect to dig a little to find your geodes, and don’t be disappointed if you don’t see them at a designated geode site right away.

On-site, open the geode with a hammer and chisel. Because of its simplicity and convenience, this is the most popular method of opening a geode. 

Place your chisel in the center of the rock and lightly tap it with your hammer to form small indentations all around it. 

Continue chiseling in a circle around the rock until a crack appears, then follow the crack with your chisel and hammer until it opens.

Other great geode-finding spots, which are also ideal for public gem mining in Tennessee, include:

Lawrenceburg – road cuttings and outcrops in the region

Woodbury – amid gravels, streams, and farmland five miles to the southeast of Cannon County

Creeks in the area are ideal for boating and fishing.

Ben Lomond Mountain is located on the west side of the city

Russellville – amid gravels, creeks, and cuts in the road

In quarries at Carpenter Hollow and Buffalo

Important Note:

“The gathering or collecting of lesser amounts of pebbles or tiny stones by hand for personal use is authorized; still, the collection of such items for the objective of marketable sale or other commercial benefit is forbidden,” according to the Tennessee department of environment and conservation.

Cumberland Plateau – Quartz, Gypsum, and Other Minerals

The Cumberland Plateau is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. 

This area is home to a lot of multi-colored Agate with moss, plumes, turrets, and eyeballs, as well as wonderful state parks. 

From Quartz to Fluorite, gems are in abundance at this rockhounding Tennessee site.

The Cumberland Plateau, located amid the Appalachian Ridge and areas around the Valley, is the world’s most extensive when it comes to hardwood. 

As a result, it is rich in biological and historical resources.

This region was used for to excavate coal and chop down timber to be collected in the early years. 

The area, on the other hand, is now primarily used for recreational purposes, with all-terrain vehicles and extensive camping facilities making it even more accessible.

Nearly 150 tent and RV campsites with hookups are available in this area.

Most camps in Cumberland Mountain State Park require reservations, so double-check the requirements of the spot you’re visiting before going rockhounding.

Keep in mind that rockhounding Tennessee on or near campsites is deemed illegal by the State Department of Environment.

Horse Mountain – Agate, Quartz Chalcedony

The agates discovered at Horse Mountain, according to locals, have entirely different look/color than the agates found in Cumberland Plateau. 

For one thing, they’re more closely banded and look like Brazilian agate.

They’re also called Ordovician sedimentary agates because they’re mostly limestone and dolomite.

Horse Mountain also has quartz, chalcedony, and carnelian, in addition to agates.

Horse Mountain has no recognized paths, so be cautious and never go exploring alone. The routes rely heavily on abandoned Forest Service roads, which increases the risk of getting lost even more.

The Horse Mountain Primitive Camp is the nearest camping spot in this area, although it lacks restrooms and electrical connections. 

There is no need to make a reservation or pay an entrance fee, so as long as you bring your RV and amenities, you’ll have an excellent time rockhounding.

Fossils and Geodes at Dale Hollow Lake

Late October is the adequate time to go fossil searching along the shorelines of Tennessee’s lakes when water levels are low. 

The bucketful can practically collect crinoid fossils at this time.

Coral heads, chert nodules, crinoid stems, geodes, and horn coral are just a few of the items found here. 

The ideal place to look for these fossils is near the coast or just below sea level. 

Burra-Burra Copper Mines – Garnet, Pyrite, and other minerals

The Burra Burra Mine is a copper mine in the southeastern United States, located in Ducktown, Tennessee. 

Over 15 million tons of copper ore are believed to have been mined over the mine’s 60-year run (from 1899 to 1959). 

The Burra-Burra Copper Mines are now home to the Ducktown Basin Museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Abandoned antique hoist rooms, boiler structures, machine shops, and powder houses are strewn across the Burra-Burra Mine site, giving visitors the impression of traveling back in time.

Over 150 rock samples have been discovered in this location, according to geologists J.F. Drexel and W.S. McCallum. 

Collecting inside the mine is strictly prohibited, though neighboring regions contain various geodes and quartz. Chalcopyrite, pyrrhotite, garnet, pyrite, and actinolite are also found.

Although you are not permitted to enter the mines due to safety concerns, you may still visit the surrounding museum exhibits, which are open all year. 

On the site, there are roughly 16 structures left, all of which are stunning.

Coker Creek – Gold 

Coker Creek, in Monroe County, is well-known for its gold deposits.

Recreational gold prospectors have continued to frequent this location for gold mining and panning since the mineral’s discovery in 1831.

Because much of the creek is private property, you’ll need to reach out to the Gold Prospectors Association of America (GPAA) for access and membership if you want to pan for gold and other vital minerals. 

There’s a considerable probability you’ll be able to find more gold if you gain a sense of the area.

Because most of the gold in this area is fine-grained, panning and rockhounding are unlikely to yield a fortune.

However, if you want to feel the thrill of a gold mine, it’s a terrific way to spend an afternoon.

In this location, there are approximately 200 separate campgrounds, each with its own set of water and camp amenities. 

The Hunt’s Lodge and Cherohala Mountain Trails Campground are two prominent campgrounds with fantastic locations and settings.

Gray Fossil Site – Fossils, Quartz, and Geodes  

In May of 2000, a road crew discovered some unique and odd bones and chose to return them to the Tennessee Division of Geology.

Both invertebrates and vertebrate fossils have been discovered.

Geologist Martin Kohl was so taken aback by the find that he decided to pay a visit to the site, which was subsequently called one of the most critical Miocene age fossil sites in the state.

The Gray Fossil Site was later named after this locality.

Although this is predominantly a fossil site, various rocks are found here, including geodes and quartz. 

The best part is that you can bring any fossil, mineral, or rock you find to the Gray Fossil Site museum to be investigated and displayed.

A ticket or a membership fee is required to visit the Gray Fossil Site.

Members can participate in various on-site digging programs, providing young aspiring paleontologists and geologists the opportunity to make a once-in-a-lifetime find.

North of Johnson City, Tennessee, is where the museum and fossil site may be found. Turn left onto Sunset Drive once you’ve off Highway 23.

Douglas Lake and Dam No. 9 – Quartz Crystals, Hematite, and more

Where can you dig for Crystals in Tennessee?

Douglas Lake is a rock-hounding spot in Tennessee that you should visit throughout the winter months if you want to have a good time. 

Because the county reduces the water levels in the lake each winter, the specimens that would otherwise be hidden are exposed.

From Quartz Crystals to Hematite, not to mention fossils, you’ll have a field day at this Tennessee rockhounding site.

Douglas Lake Diamonds, which are quartz crystals, is another prominent gemstone found in this region. 

These “Douglas Lake Diamonds” can be found by strolling back and forth on the dry lake bed.

Elmwood Mines

This is the location for genuine blue rocks in Tennessee. Unfortunately, the mine is off-limits to rockhounding enthusiasts as it is very active. 

The ideal thing is to get permission from landowners within the vicinity and go rock hunting. 

Make sure that you dress appropriately, carry food and refreshments and wear hiking boots.

There is no guarantee that you’ll get these crystals outside a gem shop, but it is still worth a shot.

Spring through fall is the best time to go rockhounding Tennessee, as summers might be too hot and winters too bitingly cold.

Overall, Tennessee has its more gems than you can mine, especially on the east side, while over on the west is where you’ll find the lowest prospects. 

In any of the sites mentioned, make sure to bring your very own pick and shovel, gloves, and collecting bag.

Enjoy!

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