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Our nearby Idaho Star Garnet hunting area
March 7, 2018
If you had plans to take the kids or the grandkids, or out-of-state visitors, or just yourself, to the Emerald Creek Garnet area to search for Idaho Star Garnets, our state gem, then you need to be aware of some schedule changes for the popular area.

The Emerald Creek Garnet Area will open for the upcoming season on Friday, June 29, 2018; five weeks later than the normal opening which would be over Memorial Day weekend. The delay is required to allow the Forest Service to excavate and stockpile the garnet-bearing gravel for visitors to sift through.

According to the Idaho Panhandle National Forest website, "In the past, people would dig in the stream bed in search of the garnets. Now, due to concerns for water quality, aquatic habitat, and public safety, the Forest Service provides a stockpile of garnet bearing gravels from which people can gather material to run through one of two sluice boxes in search of garnets."

This excavation and stockpiling work is often completed in the fall, so as to not impact the visitor experience during the summer months. Unfortunately, conditions this past fall were not conducive to completing the excavation work in a way that minimizes disturbances to water and soil quality. The excavation work has been postponed to begin in May or early June 2018, allowing for drier conditions to conduct the work with minimal disturbances to natural resources.

Located near Clarkia, Idaho (south of St. Maries in Shoshone County), the Emerald Creek Garnet Area is a popular rock-hounding destination, attracting local and international visitors and families. According to the website of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, "There are only two places in the world where one can find Star Garnets— India and right here on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests! The garnets found here are called "star garnets" because of a unique property that causes some of them to display a reflection like a four or six pointed star."

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At the Emerald Creek Garnet Area, the Forest Service provides garnet bearing material as well as tools for sifting and sluicing to aid in finding the gems. Fees are charged to help maintain the facilities.

The area will be open this year from June 29 through Labor Day. Hours are Friday through Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Note that the area is closed on Wednesdays and on Thursdays. Permits are available at the site and cost $10 for adults and $5 for children age 6-12. NO credit cards are accepted. Fees can be paid with cash or check only.

A half-mile hike is required to reach the area.

You can download the Emerald Creek Garnet area brochure by clicking here.

For additional information, please visit

You can also contact the St. Joe Ranger District office in St. Maries at 208-245-2531.

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