Hiddenite, in Alexander County North Carolina, is a small town located in the northwest part of the state. It is named after the gemstone hiddenite, which was discovered nearby in the 19th century. The town is known for its rich history and natural beauty, and is a popular destination for tourists who come to see the beautiful landscapes and learn about the area’s past.
In addition to its history and natural beauty, Hiddenite is also known for its friendly community and small-town charm. The town hosts several annual events, including a Fourth of July parade and a holiday tree lighting ceremony. Overall, Hiddenite is a wonderful place to visit and explore, and offers a unique and fascinating look into the history and culture of North Carolina.
- Emerald Hollow Mine
- Hiddenite Arts and Heritage Center
- Hotels and Places to Stay in Hiddenite
- Camping near Hiddenite
- The Bottom Line
The main attraction in Hiddenite has to be the Emerald Hollow Mine. It is the only emerald mine in the United States that is open to the public, and it gives you the chance to search for and find your own emeralds and other gemstones.
The mine has a rich history dating back to the 19th century, when it was first discovered by a young boy named Daniel Barringer. Over the years, the mine has produced some of the finest emeralds in the world, including a 13.35-carat gem that is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Smithsonian has even featured the mine as one of the best places in the country to go gem hunting.
Today, the Emerald Hollow Mine is a popular destination for tourists and gem enthusiasts who come to search for emeralds and other precious gems.
Things to do at the mine
There are a few different activities you can enjoy at Emerald Hollow Mine.
Sluicing is the most popular activity at the mine. It’s especially great for the little ones in your family. With sluicing, you wash dirt over running water to uncover the gemstones. The sluicing station at the mine has an elevated sluicing area so you can take a seat and have ready access to the running water to run over your sieve.
So there is even more to find, the staff at the mine take dirt directly from the area and then supplement it with even more gemstones from all over the world. You can spend as little as $5 on a bucket of dirt, if you are just in it for the fun, or up to $1,000, if you want to take home a real treasure of a gemstone.
With Creekin’, you head out to the mine’s gently flowing creek to find your treasure. They say that after a hard rain is the best time to look, but you can find stones here anytime. Poke around in the creek and look for areas in the creek where the gemstones would naturally stop as they flow downstream.
You’ll also get a sluicing box (same as with the sluicing) and a trowel so you can wash some dirt to find the gems.
The last thing you can do at the mine is start digging a hole. This is more for the serious treasure hunters, although kids may enjoy just playing with the shovel. Always dig a hole twice as wide as it is deep, and check the mine’s website to learn more about how to find the best possible spot to dig and follow the ‘veins’ of magma to uncover the gems.
The Mine has been hosting school field trips, YMCA groups, church groups, and plenty of others for a very long time. I grew up about an hour away from the mine and have clear memories of heading here for school field trips as well as going for a family trip. If you haven’t been to Hiddenite on a school trip, you didn’t grow up here!
With the educational programs, the group will get information on the mine, on the gemstones, and on how to sluice (typically, and sometimes creek). They’ll then get the opportunity to try their hand at it.
What gemstones can you find at the mine?
As the name implies, of course, you can find hiddenite. In fact, this part of North Carolina is the only place in the world where you’ll find what’s considered true hiddenite.
The mine is world famous for emeralds and you’ll also find sapphire, ruby, amethyst, quartz, and much more. If you find a gem and are having trouble identifying it, you can ask for help on their Facebook page.
In addition, the mine staff adds in some non-native gemstones to many of the buckets to be sure you get to go home with something pretty.
How much are your gemstones worth?
Typically not much. If you buy the $5 bucket of dirt, you’re unlikely to find anything more than a great time and a few mementos to take home with you.
But the mine has dirt buckets that go all the way up to $1,000, and the more you spend on a bucket the more you are going to find in it. And on occasion people find very large, rare gemstones here, and if you find it you keep it!
Emeralds are what Hiddenite is probably most known for, and in fact the largest emerald ever found in North America was discovered here. So you never know – maybe you’ll strike it rich!
The town is also home to the Edward Harris Jr. Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center, which showcases the history and culture of the region through exhibits, performances, and educational programs. It is located in Hiddenite, North Carolina and dedicated to preserving and sharing the history, culture, and arts of the region.
The center is named after Edward Harris Jr., a local businessman and philanthropist who was instrumental in establishing the museum. It is located in the historic Harris Building, which was built in the early 1900s and was once a hub of activity in the town.
The Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center offers a variety of exhibits and programs that showcase the history and culture of the region. The museum features artifacts, documents, and photographs that tell the story of the town and its people, from the time of its founding to the present day.
In addition to its museum, the center also offers a range of cultural programs and events, such as concerts, workshops, and performances. The center is a vibrant and dynamic community space that serves as a hub for the arts and heritage in Hiddenite and the surrounding area.
Hotels and Places to Stay in Hiddenite
There aren’t any hotels in Hiddenite. The nearest major towns are Statesville and Hickory. For more info, be sure to check out my post on the best hotels in Hickory. Hickory is about a 30-40 minute drive, while Statesville is about a 20 minute drive.
Taylorsville, NC, is even closer – only about 10 minutes away. It’s a very small town, so there aren’t many places to stay, but below is a list of what’s available.
The Lodges at Brushy Mountain is a highly-rated, comfortable 10-room lodge. Each room is outfitted with 2 queen beds, free wifi, a flat screen TV, a refrigerator, and a microwave.
The Lodge is actually part of a larger resort that has a well-maintained golf course with Bermuda fairways and the McLindon Restaurant, complete with a bar, outdoor seating with sweeping views of the course, and a menu of delicious sandwiches, salads, steaks, cocktails, and more.
Up to 4 people can stay for just a little over $100 per night, so it’s a great deal considering its location and quality.
The Apple City Bed and Breakfast is a nice little B and B someone is running out of a home in the area. It is rated 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor and other sites have similarly positive reviews. Most people have a great experience here.
The owner is very friendly, the food is great, the beds and rooms are comfortable, and it’s just overall a good atmosphere. All rooms have air conditioning and free wifi.
Avoid: Taylorsville Motel
If you Google motels or hotels in the Hiddenite area, you’re very likely to find the Taylorsville Motel. But they have no website, it’s very hard to find any information on them, and they are extremely poorly rated. At the time of this writing there is only one review on Yelp, but it’s a 1 star, and the reviews on other sites aren’t any better. The few pictures available of the place don’t look promising either.
You’re probably better off staying at one of these other accommodations or staying in either Hickory or Statesville.
Camping near Hiddenite
If you’re into camping, you’re in luck because there are also some great camping spots in the area. Here are a couple of popular sites.
The Hiddenite Family Campground has a total of 37 RV sites and plenty of tent camping too. There are both upgraded tent sites and primitive tent sites spread along the South Yadkin River. The basics are fully covered here, including showers and restrooms, 20, 30 and 50 amp hookups, and a dump station. There are also picnic tables and fire rings for you to use.
This campground has tons of amenities, too, including a swimming pool, playground, volleyball court, a horseshoe court, and walking trails. They even have some unique things you won’t find elsewhere, like farm animals (the kids will love!) and berry picking when they are in season.
This is a pet-friendly campground. Pets are allowed here, but must be kept on leashes.
Lake Hickory RV Resort is in Conover, NC, about a 30 minute-drive from Hiddenite. It is a private resort surrounded by beautiful scenery, right on Lake Hickory, with waterfront campsites. There are 180 RV sites with full hookups, water, sewer, etc. All sites have 50 amp hookups.
There are also restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, a playground, and a pavilion. The resort has their own little sandy beach and a boardwalk so you can fully enjoy the water. You can also enjoy plenty of outdoor activities here, like fishing, swimming, and paddling.
The Bottom Line
Taking a field trip to the Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite is almost a right of passage for kids who grow up in this area. Kids absolutely love digging through the dirt to find their next hidden treasure.
Beyond the mine, Hiddenite offers plenty of activities for the whole family, including cultural events, golf, camping, and much more.