MUST HAVE RESERVATION
- Phone: 760-742-1356
- Web site: http://www.gemsofpala.com/
- Length of Vacation: Half day, they usually run two groups a day
- Cost: $30
- Open: Saturday and Sundays – Seasonal (see site for details)
- Type of Prospecting: Tourmaline
- Equipment: Screens and water provided
- Instruction: Short training video and hands-on help from staff
- Lodging: Pala Casino nearby
- Meals: None; bring your own food, they do sell cold drinks
From their web site:
The Stewart Mine will always be one of the great classic locations for mineralogists. The Stewart produces the world’s finest natural pink tourmaline, both for mineral specimens that spotlight the world’s museums and also, for gemstones that highlight the world jewelry industry, but especially for the fabulous blue-capped rubellite specimens that hallmark Pala as the very crest of the best in tourmaline over the whole planet. Today, at Gems of Pala, mineral specimens, gemstones, jewelry, carvings, and gifts are presented in a natural country store atmosphere. Buckets of underground mine gravels are brought to Gems of Pala from three different locations within the 2.5-mile maze of tunnels. Screens, tables and an instructional 5-minute video get you started on your way to sharing that greatest of all treasures: your own shining moment of discovery as you mine your own gems and minerals from the buckets of fresh underground material. Our hours and days of business, along with a convenient map, are provided below this invitation to a gem of an outdoor adventure: Hunting the Pala Pink Tourmaline of the Stewart Mine at Gems of Pala!
My time there:
I visited Gems of Pala in the summer of 2007. I took my wife and then 2yr old daughter. Finding the mine was easy if you follow their map. They have a very straight forward and easy setup. They first give a small explanation of the mine and what tourmaline is. You then watch a quick video on how to look for the gems. There is a large pile of virgin mine material that you then get to dig into and fill up your bucket. After you’ve acquired your material you got the tables and use the screens and tubs provided. When I was there, we had two staff members always nearby to “double check” your finds. My daughter had a blast ‘helping’ daddy! You may not think it when you first get there, but it does take a few hours to go through an entire 5-gallon bucket. I didn’t find anything on my trip, but two other people in my group found very nice specimens; while almost everyone else in the group found at least a gem or two. On a side note, since I am Red/Green colorblind I had a VERY hard time spotting the gems. I probably dumped a few finds into their tailing pile! Oh yea, when I was there they said that people are allowed to search their tailing piles for gems. You should call and see if you still can before digging through their piles. You can also buy sandbags of material to dig up yourself and take home. I took one home. I found a few nice specimens at home, but I think that is because I was able to take my time at the house and really examine my finds. Again, being color blind sucks if you are looking for gems. But after more than a few hours of classifying material, I can now spot them most of the time.
Remember to call for reservations before you go! I saw several people get turned away while I was there. I highly recommend staying at the Pala Casino Resort if you go. I booked a morning slot at the mine so that we could spend the rest of the day at the pool! The resort has a very nice pool area. And if the fever hits you, GPAA claim CA-57 is only about 30 miles away.