Gem Mining in Colorado Guide – Best Spots and Gems Found in Colorado

gem mining colorado guide

Colorado has a lot to offer for gem hunters. The state is known for its variety of gemstones that are found across the state. In this Gem Mining Colorado guide, we will explore some of the common gems found in the state, along with the best spots you must visit for gem mining.

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado is a treasure trove for gem enthusiasts and avid rockhounds. The state boasts a rich geological history, offering an array of gemstone deposits waiting to be discovered.

Due to its incredible mountain ranges, Colorado state has thousands of old gem mines where you can find valuable gems such as diamonds, sapphire, topaz, aquamarine, and more.

The best places for gem mining in Colorado are areas around Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Gunnison. Let’s take a look at the prospect of these locations in detail.

How We Picked the Top Places for Gem Mining in Colorado

In order to find the best spots in Colorado for gem mining, we had to consider a lot of things. It can be tough to find the information we need to shortlist the best places. Here are a few things we took into consideration:

  • Input from local gem hunting associations and groups.
  • The safety of the mining location and the potential hazards.
  • The accessibility of the mining spot.
  • Private and public locations.

What Kind of Gems Can You Find in Colorado

The mountainous terrain of Colorado makes it a great place for gem mining. Due to its complex geology, you will find various collectible gems distributed throughout the state.

Here are some of the common gems that you can find in Colorado:

  • Aquamarine (state gemstone)
  • Amethyst
  • Amazonite
  • Fluorite
  • Sapphire
  • Diamonds
  • Topaz
  • Opal
  • Garnet
  • Turquois
  • Azurite
  • Moonstone
  • Kyanite
  • Zircon
  • Quartz
  • Amber
  • Malachite
  • Lapis Lazuli

Also, check out sites for Petrified Wood in Colorado and our guide on the worth of crystals.

Our Favorite Spots for Gem Mining in Colorado

Let’s delve into the best gem mining spots in Colorado, exploring the unique geological features and the gems awaiting those who embark on this captivating journey.

1. Mt. Antero

Mt. Antero

Mt. Antero is renowned as one of the highest gemstone-producing locations in the United States. This imposing peak, situated in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains, is a mecca for aquamarine and other stunning minerals.

The gem-rich pegmatite veins on Mt. Antero have yielded a variety of precious stones, including aquamarine, topaz, amazonite, fluorite, smoky quartz, and more.

The gems found on Mt. Antero are characterized by their pristine quality, with aquamarines displaying a mesmerizing blue hue and topazes showcasing a vibrant range of colors.

It’s important to note that gem mining on Mt. Antero requires permits, and you should adhere to responsible mining practices to preserve the natural beauty of the area.

2. Last Chance Mine

Last Chance Mine

Last Chance Mine near Creede offers an authentic mining experience and an opportunity to find unique gems. The Last Chance Mine, dating back to the late 19th century, was primarily a silver mine, but it also produced a variety of other minerals and gemstones.

Some of the gems found in this area are:

  • Jasper
  • Copper
  • Turquoise
  • Sowbelly Agate
  • Galena
  • Rhodonite
  • Malachite

Visitors can explore the mine’s remnants and try their luck at finding crystals, garnets, and other gemstones in the surrounding areas. However, for mining purposes, you need to pay a small entry fee.

3. Sugarloaf Peak

Sugarloaf Peak

Situated in the Gunnison National Forest, Sugarloaf Peak is a hidden gem of gem mining locations in Colorado. This picturesque spot not only offers breathtaking views, but prospectors have reported findings of various precious gems.

Some of the precious gems and minerals found in Sugarloaf Peak are:

  • Topaz (yellow)
  • Apache tears (black rubies)
  • Perlite
  • Quartz crystals
  • Feldspar
  • Amazonite
  • Fluorite
  • Phenakite

Access to Sugarloaf Peak may require hiking or utilizing backcountry roads, ensuring a sense of seclusion and tranquility.

4. San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains

The San Juan Mountains are a rugged and awe-inspiring range in southwestern Colorado and are home to a diverse array of minerals and gems. This expansive region has been a focal point for prospectors and gem collectors for decades.

Some of the notable gemstone finds in the San Juan Mountains include:

  • Aquamarine
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline
  • Fluorite
  • Azurite

The historic mining districts of Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride in the area offer access to gem-rich locations, where you can try your luck.

5. Quartz Creek Pegmatites

Quartz Creek

Quartz Creek, located in the Gunnison National Forest, is a region renowned for its pegmatite deposits, which are rich sources of various gemstones and minerals.

Pegmatites are coarse-grained igneous rocks that often contain large crystals of quartz, feldspar, and other minerals, making them prime locations for gem exploration.

You can explore the creek and encounter various gems such as:

  • Aquamarine
  • Tourmaline
  • Topaz
  • Quartz
  • Amber
  • Lepidolite Malachite

The varied terrain, from wooded areas to open meadows, offers a diverse experience for those venturing into gem mining in this region.

6. Chalk Creek

Chalk Creek

Chalk Creek, located near the historic mining town of St. Elmo, is a lesser-known gem mining spot that surprises visitors with its hidden treasures. This area has been recognized for its deposits of aquamarine, smoky quartz, and amazonite.

Chalk Creek is also famous for its deposits of Sapphires. You can find gem-quality sapphires in the gravels, and other areas around the Arkansas River and Colorado River. You can find sapphires in different shades of blue, pink, and yellow.

It’s advisable to check with local authorities or land management agencies for any regulations or guidelines pertaining to gem collecting in Chalk Creek.

7. Calumet Iron Mine

Calumet Iron Mine

While not traditionally associated with gem mining, the Calumet Iron Mine near Salida has gained recognition for its unique mineral deposits. The mine, which operated primarily for iron extraction, also yielded crystals and minerals that have captivated collectors.

Hematite, magnetite, and quartz crystals are among the notable finds reported by those exploring the area. Some of the other minerals and gems found in the area are:

  • Almandine
  • Beryl
  • Epidote
  • Kyanite
  • Tourmaline
  • Pyrite

8. Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak

True to its name, Diamond Peak in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains offers a unique opportunity for gem enthusiasts to hunt for diamonds. Although the diamonds found here are generally small, the thrill of discovering these precious stones in their natural environment adds a special charm to the experience.

Apart from Diamond Peak, you can also find these sparkling stones in the Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine and Colorado-Wyoming state line. 

Other Gem Mining Spots in Colorado

Apart from the spots mentioned above, Colorado has hundreds of amazing gem mining areas that you can visit. Here are some of our other recommendations.

Chaffee County

  • Ruby Mountain – Topaz, black rubies, Quartz, Feldspar
  • Sedalia Copper Mine – Azurite, Epidote, Kyanite, Tourmaline, Pyrite


  • Table Mountains – Aragonite, Zeolite, Calcite, Halloysite
  • Centennial Cone – Smoky Quartz, Aquamarines, Beryl


  • Italian Mountain – Garnet, Lapis Lazuli
  • Cement Creek – Albite, Lazurite, Magnetite, Talc, Garnet, Epidote
  • The highway between Marble and Carbondale – Colorado Yule Marble
  • Dunnison “Gold Belt” Mines – Gold, copper

Fort Collins

  • Specimen Mountain – Calcite, Agate, Topaz, Quartz
  • Crystal Mountain – Beryl, Autunite, Muscovite
  • Wisdom Ranch – Garnet, Granite, Beryl
  • Howes Gulch area mines – Gold, Copper, Pyrite, Chalcopyrite

Colorado Springs

  • Austin Bluffs – Carnelian, Jasper, Agate, Chalcedony
  • Sentinel Rock – Amazonite, Fluorite (green), Quartz, Hematite
  • Mine dump, West of Gold Camp Road – Zircon crystals
  • Cook Mountain – Topaz, Amazonite, Smoky Quartz
  • Eureka Tunnel – Fluorite, Zircon (gem-quality)

Mineral County

  • Willow Creek – Amethyst, Chalcedony, Silver, Agate, Turquoise
  • Wolf Creek stream bed – Amethyst, Agate, Chalcedony, Moonstone, Quartz, Jasper

Important Tools to Have for Gem Mining in Colorado

Gem mining in Colorado requires a set of professional tools and equipment. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Shovels and Trowels: For digging into softer soil, you need a sturdy shovel or a trowel. It also helps clear away the debris on the surface.
  2. Picks and hammers: To split rocks, and extract gems, you need a pick with one pointed end, and the other flat that serves as a hammer.
  3. Buckets: As you uncover gems, you need buckets to place them. Make sure you have durable buckets for the job to make sure your gems remain undamaged.
  4. Magnifying glass: For a closer inspection of your specimen, you need a magnifying glass to reveal details that are not visible to the naked eye.
  5. Zip-lock bags: As you collect gems, you need clear plastic containers or bags to store them. It also allows you to see the gems without having to open the bag.
  6. First aid kit: Mining is a risky venture, so make sure to keep a first aid kit with you at all times so you can address accidents or injuries promptly.


Colorado’s diverse geological landscape provides a captivating backdrop for gem mining, attracting enthusiasts from around the world. In this gem mining Colorado guide, we have explored some of the best spots for finding precious gems across the state.

Responsible gem mining is essential to ensure the preservation of these natural wonders for future generations. You should always check with local authorities, land management agencies, or private landowners for any regulations or guidelines regarding gem collecting in specific areas.

Whether you’re a seasoned rockhound or a novice collector, gem mining in Colorado will prove to be very fruitful, thanks to the abundance of gems and minerals in the Centennial State.

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