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“The highlight of my kids trip”

Jackson Hole Gem Mine
Ranked #6 of 23 things to do in Highlands
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Jackson Hole Gem Mine has been a family owned business since it was built in 1952. We are located exactly 9 miles from beautiful downtown Highlands, and 9 miles from downtown Franklin. We are 1/3 of a mile from the breathtaking Cullasaja Falls (means "sweetwater" in Cherokee). Also, 5 miles from Dry Falls (seen in The Last of the Mohicans). Our guests can browse our huge rock shop and gift store, or eat hot boiled peanuts on our front porch overlooking the beautiful Cullasaja River. Our gem mine is all weather fun for the whole family. Macon County is considered the "Gem Capital of the World" for a reason! Come and buy a bucket to sift! Small Buckets are $10 each, and one per person. Ultimate Buckets are $30 each or 2 for $50. These buckets are big and can be shared! We also have a $100 Bucket Club. This bucket is great for families. With this, you receive a $45 free cut of a gemstone that you find! Chuck is a master lapidary and we can help you choose what would be the best thing in your find to cut! We are handicapped accessible and very kid/pet friendly.
Jacksonville, Florida
Level Contributor
22 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“The highlight of my kids trip”
Reviewed 23 June 2014

My kids, age 4, 7, and 12 all said it was the highlight of their trip. I really enjoyed it myself, but gave it three stars for three reasons: )1) a little pricey for a family on a budget $50 for two big buckets that gave you about 40 mins of entertainment. (2) no one assisted us once outside. We were on our own to guess what we were looking for...we were the only ones there...which was nice, but I think we also got ignored and (3) there was pressure to cut/polish the stones and purchase after she explains what stones you have.

With all that being said, it's my opinion that it deserves 3 stars, but my kids would have given it 5 stars and are already asking if we can go back. My 4 year old is still carrying her unpolished gems around and we've been back from vacation for 2 weeks now!

Visited June 2014
2 Thank Jennifer V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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92 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
21 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 June 2014

Fun and great for a rainy day, best to get the 2-50 bucket. We had a blast digging through it. Came home with a bag full of gems.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank MI_travelers2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Diego, California
2 reviews
“Not much going on here.”
Reviewed 26 May 2014

Just your basic rock, gem, and mineral store. You can pan from a bucket that you can buy. The store has some cool hand crafted do-dads.

Visited May 2014
Thank RobertnAshleyShoaf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Longwood, Florida
Level Contributor
17 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“About as good as the local mining gets......but I believe that they salt their buckets.”
Reviewed 27 October 2013

Okay....this was my second trip (in 10 years) to Jackson Hole. There are supposed to be only two kinds of mines in this part of the country--salted or unsalted. For the newer "miners", "salted" mines are where gemstones are added to the native soil to give them more "pop" and make the experience more rewarding. As an avid rock collector, I have no problem with this practice WHEN THEY TELL YOU ABOUT IT. I specifically asked the kind woman this specific question when we were buying our buckets of dirt and was told that "they don't add any of the foreign 'crap' to their buckets and that their buckets were native soil." Anyways, we had a great time--particularly because they had a new "hand" working the flume named "John" who was as knowledgeable as he was funny and good with children. My daughter loved him. He regaled us with many "plausible" stories and was excellent at identifying all of the different stones that we found. And we found a ton both in terms of quantity as well as different types of stones. Which leads me to my lone criticism of the place. I believe that they clearly salted their buckets. I do not believe that there is any way that one part of Macon county, North Carolina produces: rubies, sapphires, garnets, quartz, rose quartz, topaz, adventurine, citrine, amethyst, emerald, smoky quartz, aquamarine, moonstone, and many other stones that I can't recall sitting here writing this review. In fact, it is fairly well-known that the truly native mines generally produce only rubies, sapphire and garnet. Regardless, my daughter had a blast, I had a great time and we took home a very colorful bag of the aforementioned stones. Of course, after we had our rocks "looked at" by one of the owners, she began to explain our options with regard to having some of our stones "cut" and faceted into actual ring stones and/or larger faceted wearable stones suitable for jewelry. While I do not have any knowledge about Jackson Hole with regard to their gem fabrication practices, I would seriously caution anyone from having their "mined" gems cut by any of the local mines and instead would highly recommend that they take their gems to a reputable cutter/jeweler, etc., if they are going to bother having them cut at all (read on). This is because there can be a large amount of fraud that takes place in this part of the business. It usually (but not always) works like this: You leave your gemstone that you found at their mine with them for "cutting" and "faceting", etc. Keep in mind that many if not most of these places do not even have the type of equipment needed to finish a gemstone ON THE PROPERTY! They will show you "examples" of what you can expect to receive from your gemstone once it is cut and faceted, etc. as they will typically have a large supply of finished gems on property. So, the procedure is that you pay them a small fortune to have your stone finished, leave it with them, and then they mail you the finished product. What most people don't know is that one can purchase finished gemstones on the internet for much less than what you paid to have your stone "finished." (Finished gem stone from India and Asia have flooded the market because the labor is so cheap) And, as a result, the the mark up to the consumer--you--can be quite extreme. So be careful when considering having your gem cut by any local mines as you can usually purchase a representative example of what your stone WOULD have looked like for much cheaper with a little time spent on ebay, for example.
Please keep in mind that I do not have any specific knowledge that Jackson Hole does this and this is not a comment about their specific business. For all I know, they cut their customer's stones at a reasonable price and do everything above board. This is merely a commentary about the industry in general and what CAN happen to you. Jackson Hole is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon---regardless of my belief that they salt their buckets. In fact, I would argue that it is a better experience because they do---I just wish that they'd tell you about it. Overall, I would completely recommend Jackson Hole. Their prices are reasonable and you get a lot of stones for the money!

Visited October 2013
12 Thank Wrosenfelt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Picayune, Mississippi
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Fun for the kids!”
Reviewed 3 September 2013

Had a great time mining for gems at the Jackson Hole Gem Mine on the Cullasaja Gorge road between HIghlands and Franklin, NC. We bought the large bucket to share between two kids, it was plenty big enough! found lots of quartz and other gems to take home, You can have them cut on site should you wish to turn it into a precious stone momento!

Visited September 2013
Thank gr8trz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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