My boy read about Hiddenite Gems in Family fun magazine and asked if we could visit. After looking it up, we realized it is really quite close and would make a wonderful day trip!
Pricing is reasonable. It's $5 per person for sluicing and includes 1 complimentary bucket. Additional buckets can be purchased ranging from $5-$500 each. The fee for creeking is $10 per person, and it include the sluicing permit and complimentary bucket as well. You can also rent tools/screens for creeking if you don't have your own.
The kids were thrilled with every stone they found. The complimentary buckets were quite obviously 'salted' but the kids didn't know or care. They had a ton of fun finding each and every treasure. They each filled half a quart sized ziplock bag with assorted semi-precious stones.
Although none of our stones were really worth much, we all had a really nice time. It was a bit chilly when we were here, and i think the next time we visit it will be during the summer so we can actually get in the creek and pack a picnic lunch. It was really cold while we wee there, and are fingers were numb from picking rocks out of the water.
Here are a few of the treasures i found. Petrified wood, black tourmaline, Amethyst, Aventurine, Rose quartz, smoky quartz and clear quartz. Moonstone, sodalite and Citrine. After looking at the stone chart after we were done creeking/sluicing we realized that the valuable stones...emeralds rubies and Hiddenite didn't look like anything at all. In fact had we found one in our buckets or in the creek we would have tossed it back thinking it was a common rock. So if you visit hiddenite, you might want to familiarize yourself with those stones in their raw form.
Reviews on Hiddenite Gems, are quite mixed. Some folks seem to really enjoy the visit, while others feel that it's a tourist trap because some of the buckets are 'salted'.
We went not knowing what to expect at all, and had a great time. We knew it was a treasure hunt...we might find something, we might not. However, had we come home with absolutely nothing i think i would have been pretty disappointed. So even though i realized right away that the stones had been planted in our buckets....they were fun to find. It was fun washing them off, and figuring out what we had. So it didn't bother me at all. i suppose if you go there thinking you are going to find a million dollar ruby in a $5 bucket, you might be disappointed. We really enjoyed our visit though, and the staff was very friendly and informative. We look forward to visiting again next summer, and spending more time searching the creeks.