You wouldn’t know it, but the hills surrounding Tonopah area are riddled with unimaginable amounts of turquoise. With a retail store and tour office located in the alluring Mizpah Hotel in downtown Tonopah, plan ahead for one of the most authentic Nevada experiences you could ask for: turquoise mining. Best yet, Tonopah lies just in between Reno and Las Vegas, which means it's a manageable escape from the big city. Tours begin at the Otteson Turquoise Jewelry shop, where visitors will carpool out to the Royston Turquoise Mine, a short 30 minute drive from the Mizpah.
After relocating their family to the Tonopah area in 1958, the Otteson family has been running a gamut on the turquoise industry since. The Royston Turquoise Mine separates itself with distinction, as it is known worldwide for having a wide range of colors. While the deeper aquamarine hues are considered to be the most valuable, visitors can find just about every hue of blue greens at the Royston Turquoise Mine. From emerald greens to soft baby blues, the beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and visitors will have the luxury of collection whatever they please.
As the Otteson’s control the majority of the Royston Turquoise mining district, they spend most of their days excavating this beautiful gemstone which is then processed, sorted and then sold to silversmiths around the world. Just like the Otteson’s, visitors will have the chance to dig and sort through turquoise-laden mounds, almost as far as the eye can see.
With each guest allotted one large bag for collection, they will spend three unforgettable hours prospecting their own finds. Afterward, visitors will be brought back to the Mizpah where the Otteson’s sort through your best pieces, ultimately cutting and polishing your most valuable stones. One thing is for certain, each guest will most definitely walk away with many stones. The question isn’t if you’ll find it, but how much of it and what grade you will uncover! The experience really comes full circle when guests are presented the option of having their turquoise transformed into jewelry, having the resident silversmith create your favorite bauble.
Before you secure your spot, be sure you’re prepped for the elements and remember to bring sunscreen, gloves, closed toed shoes, proper clothing [as weather may rapidly change], and lots of drinking water. Tours and held on Wednesday and Saturday during the warmer months of April through October. These four hour tours typically last from 10:00am to 2:00pm, and take you into the mine where several generations of the family owned operation reworking to excavate their own findings. As it is a modern operable mine, visitors are presented with a multitude of digging tools and a safety schpeel.
It doesn't get much more authentic with a Nevada experience like this. Definitely a must-see and do in the Silver State!