Garnet Area Information


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. India is the only other place in the world where star garnets like these are found in any quantity. The 12-sided (dodecahedron) crystals found here range in size from sand particles to golf-ball or larger size. Gem quality faceting material is also found at the Garnet Area.

The Forest Service has developed the Garnet Area as a place where the public may collect these unique gems in a safe and environmentally friendly way. 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. Our Garnet Area photo gallery shows the steps one takes to get from gravels to garnets.

Read below to find out where the Garnet Area is and how get the most out of your Garnet Area adventure.

Please note that for your safety, the safety of your pet, and the safety of others, pets are not allowed at the Garnet Area.


  • The Emerald Creek Star Garnet Area opens June 29, 2018 until the end of business on Labor Day.
  • Hours are Friday thru Tuesday 9 A.M. -to- 4:30 P.M.
  • CLOSED Wednesdays and Thursdays


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. Be aware that there is considerable logging traffic in the vicinity of the Garnet Area. Please drive with care!

Directions, Map, and Photos:

Coordinates for navigation devices:

  • Garnet Area Parking Lot:
    • Latitude: 46° 59' 49"
    • Longitude: -116° 21' 54"
  • Garnet Area Site:
    • Latitude: 46° 59' 59"
    • Longitude: -116° 22' 02"

Notes regarding navigation devices: These coordinates are provided to facilitate route finding using a navigation device. However, your navigation device may not choose an appropriate route to the Garnet Area. Depending on your starting location the device may direct you over roads that are not designed for passenger vehicles or to roads that have been seasonally or permanently closed. The chosen routes may include forest roads where conditions can change rapidly and which are impassable at times. When travelling forest roads you should also carry a current forest map.


Yes. Individuals unable to walk the 1/2-mile to the dig site can have a member of their party drop them off at the dig site, then park their vehicle in the parking lot and walk back up. A handicap placard, handicap license plate, or some other proof of disability is required for this service.


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.  NO CREDIT CARDS are accepted.  Fees can be paid with cash or check only.

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.


We recommend you allow at least 2-4 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!


You should bring:

  • Drinking Water - the nearest drinking water is available approximately 4 miles away at Emerald Creek Campground
  • Container for taking garnets home (plastic bags work well)
  • Footware appropriate for walking up to the site (1/2 mile on a road) and on uneven surfaces
  • Snacks, and/or lunch
  • Change of clothes
  • Sunscreen, hat

Some items other visitors have found useful are:

  • Lined, rubber gloves
  • Small brush
  • Collapsible stool

You are provided: buckets, shovels, and special screen boxes.


Be aware that most cell phones do not recieve service at the Emerald Creek Garnet Area.


  • Pets are not allowed. Please leave your pets at home because there is no shade in the parking lot and vehicles get extremely hot in the sun. The Forest Service is not responsible for your pets.
  • Motorized equipment is not allowed in the Garnet Area.


  • At the parking lot: information sign, directions, and outhouse.
  • At the permit kiosk: permit sales, displays, assistance to permittees, outhouses and picnick tables
  • Forest Service personnel are available to provide: visitor information, permit sales, garnet collecting instructions and assistance.


  • 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.
  • 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 drinking water is in the Emerald Creek Campground.
  • For motels in St. Maries, Idaho, contact the St. Maries Chamber of Commerce, 208-245-3563
  • For motels in Moscow, Idaho, contact the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, 800-380-1801
  • The nearest RV dumps are available at the cities of St. Maries, Bolvill, Fernwood, and Kendrick.


  • Download a copy of our Garnet Area Brochure (pdf).
  • Contact:
    St. Joe Ranger District
    222 S. 7th Street, Suite 1
    St. Maries, Idaho 83861
    (208) 245-2531