Emerald Creek Garnet Area
Please Note: The St. Joe Ranger District schedules the Emerald Creek Garnet Area to open in May the Friday before Memorial Day and closes after Labor Day. Please check this website www.fs.fed.us/ipnf/rec/activities/garnets/ before you visit the garnet area for further updates.
The Emerald Creek Garnet Area, an area managed by the U.S. Forest Service, is a popular recreation site open to the public for the purpose of searching for star garnets. Due to concerns for water quality, aquatic habitat, and public safety, the operation now uses sluice boxes for recovery of the Idaho state gem.
The Forest Service has constructed an area where the public can purchase a permit, remove material from stockpiled, garnet-bearing gravels and take them to one of two sluice boxes to wash the material in search of the garnets. The area is still in the same location as before the revamping of the operation. While visitors will no longer be digging for garnets in the stream bed, the new method still allows people to enjoy the thrill of discovery. A photo gallery on the Forest Service website shows the steps one takes to get from gravels to garnets. Screen boxes, buckets, and shovels are provided.
STAR GARNET – THE IDAHO STATE GEM STONE
Idaho and India are the two places in the world where star garnets are found. The 12-sided (dodecahedron) crystals range in size from sand particles to golf-ball or larger size and are often found with four or six-ray stars. Gem quality faceting material is also found.
WHERE IS IT?
From St. Maries, Idaho, follow Highway 3 south 24 miles to Road 447. Proceed southwest 8 miles on Road 447 to the parking area. Permits, information, and the sluice area are a 1/2 mile hike up 281 Gulch. Detailed instructions and maps are located on the Forest Service website.
IS THERE HANDICAPPED ACCESS?
Yes. Those who are unable to make the walk should call the Clarkia office (208-245-1134) and make arrangements for someone to open the gate. Or, they can have someone walk up to the sluice site and have an employee go down and open the gate. A handicap placard, handicap license plate, or some other proof of disability is required for this service.
* 9 A.M. -to- 5 P.M. Friday thru Tuesday
* CLOSED Wednesdays and Thursdays
* The Garnet Area closes for the season Labor Day
HOW DOES ONE GET A PERMIT?
Permits are available at the site and cost $10 for adults and $5 for children age 6-12. The permit is valid for one day and includes equipment. Permits are required for anyone washing or screening gravels. You may take up to five pounds of garnets with your daily permit. If you want to remove more than five pounds of garnet during the same day, you can buy another permit for each additional five pounds or fraction thereof. You are limited to six permits or 30 pounds of garnet per year.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
We recommend you allow at least two to four hours at the site. Many families like to bring their lunch and make it an all-day outing at the Garnet Area. Some rockhounds like to return several days in a row. Prepare to have fun!
WHAT EQUIPMENT DOES ONE NEED?
You are provided: buckets, shovels, and special screen boxes. You should bring:
* Drinking water, snacks, and/or lunch
* Container for garnets (recloseable plastic bags work well)
Some items other visitors have found useful are:
* Lined, rubber gloves
* Small hammer
* Small brush
* Collapsible stool
* Pets are not allowed.
* Motorized equipment is not allowed in the Garnet Area.
WHAT FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE?
* At the parking lot: information sign, directions, and outhouse.
* At the administrative tent: permit sales, displays, assistance to permittees, and outhouse.
* Forest Service personnel are available to provide: visitor information, permit sales, garnet collecting instructions and assistance.
WHAT ACCOMODATIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
* Emerald Creek Campground 4 miles east of the Garnet area. Fee is $6.00 per night per unit.
* Cedar Creek Campground 3 miles north of Clarkia on HWY 3. Fee is $6.00 per night per unit.
* Clarkia Work Center Guest Bunkhouse Rental on HWY 3 in Clarkia. (call: 208-245-1134 or 208-245-2531 for rental information).
* Food, gas, and other supplies are available in Clarkia (6 miles), Fernwood (12 miles), and Emida (25 miles).
* Laundromats in Fernwood and St. Maries.
* The nearest safe drinking water is in the Emerald Creek Campground.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
St. Joe Ranger District
222 S. 7th Street, Suite 1
St. Maries, Idaho 83861
(208) 245-2531 or Clarkia (208) 245-1134