Emerald Creek Garnet Area


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.

Garnet Area Brochure

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.

Effective March 2021:  Tickets to the Garnet Area will be by pre reservation only through recreation.gov.  No tickets will be sold on site.

Photo of the Garnet Area trailhead

At a Glance

Current Conditions: The Emerald Creek Garnet Area is now open by reservation only (effective March 2021). No walk up permits will be sold.  Reservations will become available 90 days in advance of the reservation date on recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777 or TDD (877) 833-6777.  The season is May 28 - Sept 6, 2021.
Reservations: By RESERVATION ONLY beginning March, 2021.  No walk up permits will be issued. Permits can be purchased online at https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/10086846?tab=info or by calling (877) 444-6777 or TDD (877) 833-6777    
Area Amenities: Accessible,Picnic tables,Toilets,Parking
Fees Permits can be purchased online at https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/10086846?tab=info or by calling (877) 444-6777 or TDD (877) 833-6777 Adults:  $15 Children ages 6-12:  $5  Children under 6:  Free. Recreation.gov charges a $1 processing fee on each transaction A mineral permit is issued for each individual.  Limit of 5 lbs of garnet per day; 6 permits per year.  
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Trained Service Animals Only (no shaded parking for cars with 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

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


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