Ely

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Just a few miles northwest of Ely in the Eagan Mountain range is the gem lover’s paradise known as the Garnet Fields Rockhound Area. This amazing location, dubbed Garnet Hill by locals, is known the country over for its beautifully rich, dark red garnets that can be found in the rhyolitic volcanic rock. The gems found at Garnet Hill are known as Almandine and get their rich color from their high iron content. Most of the area garnets have natural flaws, but a lucky few may stumble across perfect gem quality stones. The garnets are easy to find but do require a shovel and rock hammer to pry them out of the surrounding rock. Local advice for the best garnets is to hunt in the southwest corner, which is where the old volcano deposited the highest quality gems. Locals also recommend searching after a rainstorm or snowmelt when surface areas have been washed away.

Visitors hoping to discover a beautiful selection of garnets can make a weekend of it, as the Garnet Fields Rockhound Area also features limited camping space for both tents and smaller RVs. There’s also a group campfire area and a wheelchair accessible restroom, as well as five picnic tables near the top of Garnet Hill. Additional camping sites can be found in and around the nearby town of Ely. Garnet Hill is also one of the best locations for a great view of the open pit copper mine and colorful waste rock dumps of the nearby Robinson Mining District.

Best of all, gem hunters will find the exciting Garnet Hill open to the public at no charge.

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