Crystal Mining: How to Dig Crystals & A Guide to Arkansas Mines

Crystal Mining: How to Dig Crystals & A Guide to Arkansas Mines

Most people may not realize that rocks & minerals that you shop for at your crystal shop, could actually be very close by, patiently waiting in the earth for someone to come uncover their magic. Did you know that just outside San Diego, CA some of the best watermelon tourmaline, black tourmaline, kunzite, morganite & lepidolite can be found?  Or that there is amethyst growing right now in the earth of South Carolina. It sure is! - but thats for another blog… This one is all about gorgeous Clear Quartz Crystals growing deep in the earth in the heart of America.

I found this beautiful cluster at Avant Mine.

For the past 2 years I have had the pleasure of digging these beauties up from Mother Gaia & I cannot really describe the feeling it brings to find one yourself, knowing that you are the only human that has touched this powerful marvel. I hope every crystal lover gets to experience this magic in their lifetime & I am delighted to share my experience at 3 public mines below as well as tips for your first dig!

Where to go in Hot Springs, Arkansas Area

I flew from Los Angeles to Kansas where my mother & I loaded up my dad’s truck (THANKS DAD!) and hit the road for an 8+ hour road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas. We had traveled there the year before for 1 day of digging, but this year we were doing it big, staying for 3 days & checking out multiple public mines. We decided to stay at a very nice but very affordable AirBnB in Hot Springs just a couple of miles from the Historic Downtown. Below I have reviewed the 3 mines that we visited. At all mines, you pay a fee to dig & get to keep all that you find!

Wagner Mine

Cost to Dig -  $18 for 2 hours

Hours of Operation 8am - 5pm

Website

This mine is located just outside of Mt. Ida, Arkansas about 1 hour from Hot Springs. The Mine opens at 8am but the first dig does not leave for their Crystal Forrest until 9:30. They have a little crystal shop where you sign up & pay for your dig. They have crystals not only from Arkansas but all over the world. 15 Minutes before your scheduled dig you will meet in the parking lot to discuss the safety measures & board the back of a truck to make your way out to the mining area. Please note that this a pretty bumpy ride through a forrest with branches & trees that you need to watch out for, but we found this very fun & part of the experience. You can instead request to ride in the cab. They also have a small tailings area (for an additional cost) behind the building for younger children or anyone that does not want to make the trek out to the mining area.

Once you make it to the mining area you are told what areas are available to dig in that day as well as given some tips for how to spot a crystal. Usually you will see them the moment you step off the truck just lying on the dirt! This year we were pointed to mainly rows of dirt that I am pretty sure were moved there from the nearby wall or another place in the mine. I do not believe you can actually dig into a wall or into any pockets here, as this year it was all fenced off, however, last year I was able to. *They do have a special Phantom Quartz Mine, however you need 10 people to be able to dig there, I have not been lucky enough to make that happen yet! 

The Goods:

This is a great place for families & young children! It is a very easy walk around the mining location.

We mainly found smaller crystals at this mine, perfect for making jewelry. The crystals here the past two years have been very clear!

The shop at the top has a lot of other specimens available from all over the world with very friendly staff to help you find everything.

The Not So Good:

The last two years we found relatively smaller crystals here, this could possibly be because there are piles of dirt (I believe) as opposed to digging into the wall with the chance of uncovering a large pocket, or possibly they just aren't as prevalent here.

There is no place to wash your crystals off, if you are staying at a hotel or an airbnb with no hose like us, just be aware that you will have buckets or boxes of muddy crystals traveling with you. Tip - you can find a do it yourself hand carwash & rinse them off - just bring quarters!

 

Twin Creek Mine

Cost to Dig - $25 for all day

Hours of Operation - 8am  - 4pm. (do not trust google it says 9:30am, call ahead but they told me they open at 8am)

Website

This mine is located a little less than an hour from Hot Springs, Arkansas. You will for sure need a truck or SUV with 4wheel drive - a vehicle that can handle a very bumpy, very steep at times, very rocky road. Once you have finally completed the bumpy journey you will arrive at the mine itself. We were greeted by a very friendly couple that said they prefer cash payment but all we had was card. It wasn’t a problem, I just had to ride up to the top of the hill with her to get enough service on her phone to use the card reader. You will receive a little safety chat & sign paperwork promising you understand the risk of mining & that you will follow their rules to stay within the perimeters.

After the check in you are free to roam the entire available area of the mine, that is quite vast and steep. This mine is not for someone that is clumsy or immobile as it has several inclines, basically on a side of a little mountain. They have some open walls you can mine in & try to find your own crystal pocket! (see how to find a crystal section for more info on this).

We were able to find a variety of small & medium super clear crystal points & clusters, and best of all, the clay / mud was not as thick on these crystals, they were the easiest to clean. You will be able to take breaks directly at your vehicle & I highly recommend you bring your own little picnic for lunch. We really appreciated the couple running this mine, overall great energy & they spent a lot of time helping us & giving us the crystals they were finding as well. I suggest brining a little cash to throw in their tip jar & they have some larger pieces available for purchase.

The Goods:

This mine is super fun with lots of variety as it has wall digging & tailing piles too.

The energy of this place & the people running it is great & the view is beautiful. It feels like you are completely secluded on a little mountain with just trees & crystals all around.

You are able to be right next to your vehicle to bring what ever you please to stay comfortable.

The Not So Good:

You cannot visit this mine without a vehicle that is able to handle the road up to it.

If you have a family with little kids / older people who would have trouble with the steep areas be very cautious /careful  while you are here, it may not be the best mine for you! 

 

 

Avant Mining

Cost to Dig $30 all day

Open 9am - 5pm 

Website

I was so excited to visit this mine as it is the first time it has ever been open to the public! Avant Mining is known for their incredible large clear quartz crystal that they have mined for years from their 1,400 acres of land! However, only a small portion is open to the public. When you arrive you will be greeted by the nicest people who will take your payment (cash preferred) & will have you sign the usual liability / safety paperwork.

While we were there they had very large piles of earth that they were bring up from a mine below. We even had the chance to watch them bring up brand new piles several times, dumping out tons (literally tons) of earth out of a huge dump truck. (& it was a badass woman driving the dump truck!)

 

It was so fun knowing we were the first people to go through these tailings directly from the mine below, and several of our large crystals were found right on top after the big dump. This was for sure my favorite mine we visited!

The Goods:

This mine is located north of Hot Springs about half an hour drive in the gorgeous mountains.

It is very easy to get to, located just off of a paved road.

We found so many great medium - larger pieces here! This was my favorite mine.

The Not So Good:

This public portion of the mine is extremely new so they do not have many facilities available yet, but they do have a couple of shade tents & a port-a-potty.

There is no where to wash your crystals off, be prepared to take home some muddy rocks!

 

What to bring:

 

  • Bring some tools if you plan to go to a mine that does not provide any for you. Be prepared for all kinds of dirt / mud / clay -  a large brush (I purchased mine in the house cleaning section) , a screw driver (to pry the crystals without harming them) a small handheld shovel or a larger one.
  • Bring Buckets - some mines do provide them but some do not and it is nice to use for transporting but boxes could work as well.
  • Bring a gardening cushin or something soft to sit / kneel on.
  • Bring a cooler with ice water, especially if you are digging in the summer heat.
  • Bring a waitress apron or a tool belt - this was a new addition to my dig this year and totally worth it, as you're digging up crystal babies you will have a place to put them & the more pockets it has the better, it will keep them from damaging each other.
  • Bring gloves to wear to keep your hands safe as crystals are as sharp as glass
  • Bring a small beach umbrella if you can - it really helps to give yourself a shady spot for when you want to dig in one area for a longer period of time.

First Time Tips:

  • Apply a lot of sunscreen: This one is kind of obvious, but super important to remember & re apply as often as you can!
  • Dont wear any rings or jewelry - you're going to get super dirty & your hands may swell or get injured while you are handling tools.
  • Clip your fingernails short - even if you are wearing gloves, digging in the dirt can cause painful breaks & bends your finger nails backwards, speaking from experience. Ouch.
  • Wear clothes that you do not mind getting very dirty & potentially ruining, as you are digging in clay / iron that can stain, your main focus should be uncovering crystals not worrying about mud on your clothes.
  • Wear closed toe shoes, probably obvious, but you will be digging in rocky / muddy terrain that can be very sharp.

How to find a crystal:

The easiest way to find a crystal is to walk around the mining areas and look for something shiny. This is a particularly useful technique if it has rained fairly recently as the rain will wash away a top layer of dirt exposing the crystals on top.

You can also dig into the piles of dirt & look for clumps of clay. Break open all of the clumps as crystals are usually surrounded by clay.

Look for black (yes black!) in the mud / clay, because if a clear crystal is surrounded on all but one side with mud / clay, its face that is showing will appear more black than anything.

If you are lucky enough to dig into a wall aka pocket digging, focus on one area for a while. Dig until you find a peanut butter like consistency to the mud. It may be very red with light gray clay mixed in too. Once you have found this you are likely to find a ton of crystals in that exact area.

If the earth is super dry, use a brush to move the dirt in order to expose the crystals without harming them with a shovel.

If you do spot part of a crystal, use a screw driver or something long and sharp to move the earth around the crystal - try your best to not get too close to the crystal with the sharp tool as you do not want to scrape or harm it! - so dig around it far away from what you see - the crystal could be a lot bigger than you think! 

 

Want to learn how to clean the crystals or read about other fun things to do while in Hot Springs, AK? Let me know what I should write about next in the comments!