Family Fun in the Smokies: Gem Mining in Pigeon Forge


There’s no shortage of family fun in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, making it the perfect destination for a family vacation that the whole family will enjoy. WonderWorks is great for kids (or adults) interested in science, art, math, or space, and the Hollywood Wax Museum is the place for star-struck tourists. At the Titanic Museum Attraction, guests can touch an iceberg and tour the ship with the boarding pass of an actual passenger or crew member, and The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge offers history, Southern food, and lots of great treats.

And on top of the big-name attractions, Pigeon Forge is home to miniature golf courses, lots of arcades, go-kart tracks, laser tag arenas, dinner shows, a wide variety of restaurants, and tons of local and chain stores. If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do for a day, a weekend, or an entire week in the Great Smoky Mountains.

There are also a few things the area is known for…classic Pigeon Forge experiences you don’t want to miss out on while you’re here. Besides staying in a cozy cabin in the woods, you can get an airbrush t-shirt, take an old-time photo, play arcade games, or go mining for gems! There are several great places to go gem mining, where you can dig for your own gemstones, and then have them cut and polished to take home!

Pigeon Forge Gem Mine
2865 Parkway
Pigeon Forge, TN

Just a couple miles from Dollywood and next to the Three Bears General Store, the Pigeon Forge Gem Mine is located in the heart of all the action on the Parkway. Kids will love mining for their own gems, and you can even have the gems you find cut, polished, and mounted into a wide variety of jewelry! Get a bucket and start searching for a treasure, or check out their jewelry department to pick out a pre-made piece of costume jewelry or something with a precious stone.

If you want to take a piece of the fun home, check out their Mining To Go. You can get to-go mining bags, screens, pans, and buckets from $2.99 to $50, and then get the mining experience when you get back home. Plus, they have friendly staff (assayers) who can tell you what gems you’ve found, or you can get a stone ID card that will help you along the way. You may even run across a fossil or arrowhead! And don’t forget to check out their FREE rock and fossil museum before leaving! 

Fort Fun Family Entertainment Center
716 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

A one-stop-shop for a fun experience for the family, the Fort Fun Family Entertainment Center has a little bit of everything for a fun day in Pigeon Forge. Between indoor and outdoor miniature golf, laser tag, bumper cars, a motion ride with 5 different experiences, and escape games, you could spend an entire day playing around here.

On top of all that, Fort Fun Family Entertainment Center has gem mining, which is always a hit with families. While the hunt is fun on its own, gem mining at Fort Fun always guarantees lots of treasures. Each paydirt bag is guaranteed to have 15-17 gemstones, so you’ll always head home with plenty of rubies, emeralds, opals, sapphires, garnets, and more.

Old Smoky Gem Mine
968 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN

The Old Smoky Gem Mine is conveniently located, situated just down the street from Calhoun’s and the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can stop in for some gem mining fun and then grab a bite to eat or head over to the national park for some outdoor adventures like hiking or going for a bike ride!

Little River Gem Mine at Prospector’s Rock Shop
2189 Winfield Dunn Parkway
Sevierville, TN

Set in a quaint wooden “shack” in the Smokies, Little River Gem Mine really takes you back to the old days when gem mining would have been in full swing. You can spend an afternoon mining for gems, and you can even crack open your own geode to see what treasure lies inside! 

Once you sift and find your gems, you can have them polished and cut to take home or even put into jewelry by a local jeweler! They also have a huge selection of pre-polished gemstones inside the gift shop, so you can browse to find geodes, massagers, jewelry, home accessories, and more!

Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa
909 Little Cove Road
Pigeon Forge, TN

Not far from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Big Rock Dude Ranch is a favorite for horseback riding in the Smokies. But they have much more than that. You can cast a line in their stocked fishing pond, take the kids to the petting zoo, sit down for lunch at the picnic area, take a guided ATV ride, or do some gem mining! You’ll find lots of fun things to do at Big Rock Dude Ranch. 

Find a spot in front of the flume area and start digging for some treasures. The gems come from all over the world, and you can buy a $12.95 bag or get 2 for $20. You’ll find a wide variety of geodes in each bag, from quartz crystal, amethyst, blue calcite, jade and turquoise to pyrite, serpentine, rose quartz, and selenite.

Bonus: Anakeesta! 
One of the newer attractions in the Smokies, Anakeesta (in Gatlinburg) boasts plenty to do. On top of the stunning mountaintop views, Anakeesta offers shopping, treetop walks, dining, ziplines, and more! They also offer gem mining (separate from the main admission ticket)! Search for rare gems, try their mountain coaster, and more! 

Where to Stay
After your fun day out hunting for gems, be sure you have a cozy place to call home. Our cabin rentals offer something for every group, whether you need an intimate 1-bedroom cabin or a sprawling large group lodge!

Our amenities cover it all, so browse to find big screen TVs, hot tubs, game tables, private indoor pools, theater rooms, full kitchens, bunk beds, mountain views, firepits, large decks, and more!