Emerald Creek Garnet Area

Area Status: Closed
This area is Closed

A person holding a handful of garnets.


There are only two places in the world you can find Star Garnets - India and right here on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests! 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. Click here to learn what to bring, get detailed directions, view photo galleries, and more!

Photo of the Garnet Area trailhead

At a Glance

Operational Hours: 2018 Early Closure & Reduced Hours
  • Friday August 17:  Open 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Last permit sold at 12:00
  • Saturday August 18:  Open 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Last permit sold at 12:00
  • Sunday August 19:  Open 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Last permit sold at 12:00 - LAST DAY for 2018
  • Monday August 20:  Closed for season
  • Tuesday August 21: Closed for season
Area Amenities: Accessible,Picnic tables,Toilets,Parking
Fees Permits are available at the site and cost $10 for adults and $5 for children age 6-12, under 6 is free. NO CREDIT CARDS accepted, the fee is payable by cash and check only. The permit is valid for one day and includes equipment.
Permit Info: 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 per year.
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Pets and motorized equipment are not allowed in the Garnet Area. 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.
Closest Towns: Clarkia, Idaho
Water: None - bring your own drinking water.
Restroom: Outhouse

General Information


Be aware of road conditions prior to choosing your route.  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!

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Rocks & Minerals

Show detail SHOW


Picnic tables Picnic table at parking lot and ADA accessible toilets at dig site.
Toilets ADA accessible toilets available at parking lot and dig site.
Parking Parking off main road, no parking available at dig site.
Accessible Contact the St. Joe Ranger Station at (208) 245-2531 for details.
Areas & Activities


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