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“Lookings for gems”

Montana Blue Jewel Mine
Ranked #11 of 48 things to do in Helena
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: This place is seasonally closed. We will be open May 2017. Check our website for updates!
Fall City, Washington
Level Contributor
53 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Lookings for gems”
Reviewed August 8, 2014

My kids loved this place. We bought 4 buckets. They got tired of doing this after a few hours. I would suggest 1 ucket for one family. It is fun but a ton of work. We found a handful of gems...

Visited August 2014
4 Thank Whitney R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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43 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
65 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Worth the Effort. Wonderful experience. ”
Reviewed August 5, 2014 via mobile

As others have stated, a little tough to find but so very worth the effort. Our family had a fantastic time learning, and sifting/panning for sapphires, hematite, and other interesting stones. Son (7), and daughter (10) loved it.
The owner, Bruce, is fantastic. He was a teacher, historian, and storyteller. Bruce took time to teach the whole family the steps, but took extra time with the kids. Once we went through a cycle, he let us go.

Several notes. It was really hot so bring water, sunscreen, hats, an umbrella, etc. Bring snacks.
This can be hard, dirty work. Wear athletic shoes or boots and prepare to be covered in dirt/dust.

As others note, got to the GPS point and then had to drive down a long hill to several mining operations closer to the river. (1 mile+). Bruce's is a few sites back and has a mobile home, lots of heavy machinery, and a small mobile home with the Panama flag (we didn't get to meet Panama). We did spot a couple small "BJSM" signs that aided our search.

We are novices and were so glad we made the effort to meet Bruce and spend a half-day searching for sapphires. We can't wait to return some day in the future.

4 Thank Baruckj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
39 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“A real Montana mining experience”
Reviewed July 16, 2014

This out of town location is hard to find but well worth the trip. After several miles on a dirt road, our GPS wanted to take us down a gully to nowhere when we entered the address, but we continued on and eventually found it a few miles on down the road.
This is a real, operational Sapphire mine with a fascinating history and the best hosts you could ever hope for. There are many, many mines and sapphire hunting operations in the area but this is by far the very best actual mining experience you could hope for. Bruce, the owner, is very knowledgeable and very willing to explain everything you want to know and help you get started. This is a real mine so not a fancy place. You will stand out in the open while you screen your treasures so wear sunscreen and bring water as it is hard work and gets hot. You might want to get a burger at the York Tavern before or after you go here - the burgers are excellent (mushroom/swiss) and York is the closest little town nearby.
We've been to Phillipsburg and found a large sapphire there but this was far superior to that experience even though we didn't find our fortune that day. Bruce has many gorgeous stones for sale but you have to ask to see them and there is absolutely no pressure to buy - in fact, you can tell it would be hard for him to part with some of them and again, these stones are spectacular!
We are planning to return again next year. Thanks Bruce and Panama! We had a great time at Blue Jewel Mine.

Visited July 2014
10 Thank Cynthia E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“100% worth your time! Great experience and lots of fun.”
Reviewed July 11, 2014

My boyfriend, our little dog and I went to Blue Jewel Mine on the way home (to Washington State) from visiting family in Montana. I had dug for garnets, quartz, and amethyst as a kid in Montana, and my boyfriend had always wanted to look for gems, so it seemed like the perfect thing to do during our trip.

Totally worth it! It's a bit off the beaten path so make sure you take down the directions from their website, call them or ask along the way after York, as you'll spend around 15-20+ minutes on gravel roads. I have a tiny city car that did just fine so I'd say not to be worried about your vehicle making it there.

Bruce and company were extremely kind, informative, and welcoming! They taught us all about how to sift and wash the gravel and look for the gems, and they showed us all sorts of amazing examples of both cut and raw sapphires and other neat stones and fossils to keep an eye out for. From a number of buckets of gravel we walked out with a small bag of beautiful raw sapphires, some of them cuttable, plus fossils, hematite, quartz, and agate. We spent probably 3-4 hours there and would have been there even longer if we hadn't had to get on the road.

Tips: Do bring lots of water/fluids, snacks if you're planning on being there a while, hats/sunglasses, sunscreen and decent shoes, plus common sense based on the weather. Don't expect there to be a lot in the way of frills as this seems to be very much a working mine, which makes for a very neat, casual, hands-on experience.

It was so much fun! We'll definitely be going there next time we're passing through Montana. Thanks to everyone at the mine!

Visited July 2014
9 Thank TJNM_seattle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auburn, Washington
Level Contributor
20 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Awesome experience”
Reviewed July 2, 2014

Looking for something interesting to do while we were in Helena, and we found it. This was our first time doing mining, but it is simple, fun and can be rewarding. Bruce was a big help and we probable needed more help than most beginners. We weren't expecting to find anything huge but we did find about a dozen sapphires and some other beautiful rocks. Do yourself a favor and read ALL of the reviews for ALL of the mining companies offering "fee" based mining. We did and I know we made the right choice. It was awesome. Thanks Bruce

Visited July 2014
5 Thank Roberta M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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