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Opal Mining in Nevada

October 2-5, 2023


Still heading west! Left Colorado, drove through Utah, and stopped over for the night in West Wendover, Nevada. We saw lots of rocky mountains and salt lakes in Utah. The drive from the Nevada state line to the Royal Peacock Opal Mine became more isolating the closer we got. The last 80 miles, we passed only 2 cars. 

We turned off the highway and onto a 10 mile skinny, bumpy, sometimes muddy dirt/gravel road that  ended at the rustically western, comfortable campground that even provided full hookups!  Driving down the dirt road, we both wondered what we would find, but our excitement returned as soon as we entered the campground. 

    We met 4 other campers and our guide, Craig, at the opal mines bright and early the next morning. Craig was nice, very informative, and was able to identify if a stone was an opal or a churt -something that looks similar to an opal.  It was a chilly 37 degrees to start, but it warmed up quickly.

Doug found the first opal, a black opal! It turned out to be the best find for us.


Black opals are rare and only found in Nevada, Ethiopia, and Australia. Opals develop in wood from water and silica pressurized in the earth.


This is a black opal I found in wood and rock.


Another small black opal I found

Yellow opal

Rainbow opal

We dug for 6 hours and found a variety of small black, gold, and white opals.  Craig helped us find several opals also.  These are just a few of what we found. Overlook the manicure; I've been digging for opals!

     

Our Little dog, Lili, was quite content the whole time. I think she liked the coolness of the dirt and slept most of the time except for one occasion when she started digging, also. 


Doug made Lili a tent to shield her from the sun and she loved it! 

     

     It was exciting to find gems and hear the story about how opals evolved from volcanoes that erupted,  covering the trees that eventually found their way under the soil. After many years of pressure and water filtering into the earth, opals were created inside branches and trunks of trees. 

     

This adventure has turned us into real ‘rockhounds’!  The intriguing anticipation of finding a gem among a bunch of dirt and rocks was exciting! We can’t wait to find another treasure!

     We are headed to California! But first we hope to make it to the closest gas station in that direction which is 100 miles😳 Opals are not the only thing rare around here; gas stations, internet, and phone service are rare!! I'm just happy we aren't traveling by horse and buggy.

     Update: Yay! We made it to the gas station ($4.80 a gallon) and now driving on beautiful mountain roads with gorgeous Fall foilage towards California.



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