Where customers become friends and friends become family!

Franklin, North Carolina


Our native dirt pile is where your gem mining experience begins. 100% native dirt (unsalted – nothing added) from our private mine site located atop Mason Mountain is brought down to the water flume for miners to sift through. Here is where you'll find a wide variety of minerals including Rhodolite Garnet, Ruby, Sapphire, Kyanite, Moonstone, Cordierite and Smoky Quartz.

Our experienced staff will guide you in how to discover the native gemstones. We have gemstone charts available to help you identify your findings as well. Just place the dirt in the screen and rinse thoroughly in the water flume. Concentrate on material that is smooth, heavy and has color. Until you become familiar with the native material, our staff will help you find all of the hidden treasures!

100% Native dirt. Nothing added. This is as real as it gets!

Native Dig Pile

  • 9am-5pm
  • Unlimited buckets!
  • Adults: $40.00 per person
  • Children ages 6-12: $20.00 per person
  • Children under age 6 are free with a paid adult (max of 2 children per adult)
  • All children must be accompanied by a paid adult to dig in the pile

Private Native Dig Pile

For our avid rockhounds, we now offer a fresh private dig pile just for your group. This is still 100% native dirt.

  • $500.00 for the day 9am-5pm
  • This pile is exclusively for your group
  • Maximum of 10 people on a pile
  • This option is prepaid reservation only

After Hours Mining

Want the place all to yourself one night? This option is for you.

  • $750.00 for the evening (5pm- 9pm)
  • Up to 10 people in the group
  • +$50 per person over 10 people
  • Access to dig pile & flume only
  • This option is prepaid reservation only

Jewelry & Keepsakes

Once your mining is completed at the flume line, be sure to take your findings into the gift shop for identification by the shop staff. The staff will select any findings that could be cut and made into jewelry. Our turn around time ranges from 3-8 weeks depending on the season.

We also offer cutting and jewelry making classes for our customers. (See more below.)

Super Buckets

To ensure gems are discovered, miners can purchase enhanced (“salted”) buckets that have gems added to the native dirt. This will guarantee a find of additional minerals.

These buckets are many of our miners’ favorites!


  • $50.00 Bucket = average of 10 pounds of gems
  • $100 Bucket = average of 20 pounds of gems


For our serious rockhounds, we offer gem-filled barrels that range from $500.00 to $1,500.00. You'll definitely get your money's worth in these!

​These barrels are said to “Rock your world” as a rockhound.

We Ship Dirt

Can’t make it during our season? ​No worries, we ship dirt all over the United States.

$50.00 and $100.00 buckets for shipping.

(S/H subject to change based on shipping location.)

Visit our online store to have dirt delivered to your front door!


** Jan. & Feb. 2024 = CLOSED

** Opening Day = March 1, 2024!

Mason Mountain Mine Flume


(Mar. 1 thru Oct. 29)

    Sunday – CLOSED
    Monday – 9am-5pm
    Tuesday – 9am-5pm
    Wednesday – CLOSED
    Thursday – 9am-5pm
    Friday – 9am-5pm
    Saturday – 9am-5pm

    WINTER 2024

    (Nov. 7 thru Dec. 21)

      Oct. 30 – Nov. 6 = CLOSED
      Nov. 28 = CLOSED
      Dec. 22 – 31 = CLOSED

      Sunday – CLOSED
      Monday – CLOSED
      Tuesday – CLOSED
      Wednesday – CLOSED
      Thursday – 10am-3pm
      Friday – 10am-3pm
      Saturday – 10am-3pm

      Jan. & Feb. 2025

      Closed For The Month

      OPENING DAY 2025

      Mar. 1, 2025

      Gift Shop

      Looking for that special souvenir? When you stop by our gift shop our friendly staff will happily assist you. As you browse our shop, you will find gems and minerals from our property, surrounding areas and from all over the world. Whether you are looking for jewelry, T-shirts, hats, specimens, toys, or home decor you can find it in our gift shop.

      watermelon rubies

      Handmade Jewelry

      At Mason Mountain Mine you can have your treasures turned into jewelry that will last forever. Our knowledgeable staff can assist you in identifying which findings would best make into a beautiful keepsake.

      You'll find a wide selection of mountings from rings, pendants, earrings, and bracelets to help you design your one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.

      Pricing of cutting and mountings vary depending on the size of stones and whether mounts are silver and gold.

      We also offer a wide variety of beautiful custom-crafted jewelry with stunning gemstones from all over the world. If you're in the market for a truly unique and special gift, we've got you covered!

      watermelon rubies
      watermelon rubies


      The Crystal Collector Visits Mason Mountain Mine

      Crystals of Arkansas Visits Mason Mountain Mine


      Based on 221 reviews
      Julie Porter
      Julie Porter
      November 2, 2023
      We had a great time! Folks were very friendly, helpful, and told us all about our find , after our sift. We spent 4 hours there digging in dirt, and sifting for our gem stones!! Mighty nice people there. I will definitely go back there! Found some great gems too!! Emeralds, Rubys, Sapphires, and Garnet! A super nice piece of Tiger's Eye. And many more gem stones too. A great experience!! Get a little dirty, get a little wet! It'll bring out your inner kid!! And the gift shop has some gorgeous gifts!! Very reasonable priced. Jewelry, gems, stone! Beautiful hand crafted pieces. It's one of those places, you'll want to go back to. Time, after time.
      Sarah Magin
      Sarah Magin
      October 1, 2023
      We traveled to NC to mine for a ruby that we could facet into a center stone for an engagement ring. We found a great stone at Mason Mountain Mine! When we found it, we had only a few hours before our return flight home. I later contacted the shop to see if they would facet the stone for us. Ginger was so helpful in giving me all the information, and Tom cut a beautiful center stone for my ring! The pricing was very reasonable as well. We are so appreciative of the experience and the end result!
      Kirk Hartley
      Kirk Hartley
      October 1, 2023
      Had a great and successful time mining for stones! Great people assisting and educating as you soft for gems! I found a nice star ruby that they are turning into a pair of earrings for my wife ! Lots of Rhodolite garnets, and some very good rubies ! I will be back!
      Gary Norrington
      Gary Norrington
      September 2, 2023
      This just our second time mining for anything and the first time no one took the time to explain how it is done and show examples of what we were looking for. When we paid in the store they took the time to show us examples of things we may find/see. We were then directed to the mining area across the street. Shout out to Patty, she explained everything to us and once we were situated and beginning she came over multiple times to see how we were doing and pointed out a few things we should be looking for. This was a great experience and look forward to coming back on a future trip. We had buckets of fun while mining.
      Nicholea Boggs
      Nicholea Boggs
      September 1, 2023
      We have been there 2 times.. we will go back hopefully many more times.. wonderful people who work there they made my day.. had a blast looking for Ruby’s and Rodalite Garnets..
      August 29, 2023
      Best rock mining in the area. Always find goodies in the natural dig
      Seth Fontaine
      Seth Fontaine
      August 14, 2023
      My family and I spent 2 days mining here. Fantastic people and had a blast looking for rubies and other gems. We left with piles of gems. Highly recommend this activity for young ones and adults.
      Robert Lafollette
      Robert Lafollette
      July 27, 2023
      This is most definitely on of my favorite gem mines if not my all time favorite! John is super helpful and everyone here is nice as all get out! I’ll be back plenty more!
      D Varne
      D Varne
      July 21, 2023
      I have been to several different mines in the area, and this one is the best by far! The amount of stones and the size is amazing and frankly the cost is great on a bang for your buck level! The staff is very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. If you are in NC visiting the gem mines, DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE!!
      Katie Wollard
      Katie Wollard
      July 9, 2023
      My family loves these sweet people, we visit often when in the area. The best and only mine to go to!

      Gem Cutting


      Tom teaches gem cutting lessons throughout the season.

      Cutting demo lesson: $150.00

      All lessons are by appointment only. ​To schedule a lesson call (828) 421-1457.

      Owned and Operated by
      Tom and Ginger Johnson

      In the late 1800’s, a mine was discovered in northern Macon County, North Carolina that was rich in Rhodolite garnets and six other minerals. The mine was a well-known treasure to the county’s earliest inhabitants and in 1965, when Tom Johnson was just six months old, his father purchased the mine. Today, the mine is still in the family with Tom and his wife, Ginger, continuing the family’s legacy of opening the mine, now known as Cowee Gift Shop and Mason Mountain Mine.

      Tom & Ginger Johnson

      The family mining tradition has remained, making the mine a popular gathering site for families and miners from all over the world who come to Macon County still searching for gems.

      In addition to Rhodolite garnets, named for the native Rhododendron that grows across the mountains, the property has six other minerals – Corundum, which is Ruby and Sapphire, Kyanite, Moonstone, Smokey Quartz, Garnet, and Cordierite (a form of Iolite).

      At Mason Mountain Mine customers become friends and friends become family!


      Our annual Special Events are something that our Rockhound  Family looks forward to each year. A professional DJ, lots of food, and awesome prizes are on hand to ensure that each event will be a memorable experience.

      Night Mining

      July 13, 2024
      7 pm – 11 pm
      Regular dig rates apply
      No reservations needed

      Customer Appreciation Day

      October 12, 2024
      9 am – 5 pm
      No reservations needed

      Mason Mountain Special Events

      Drop Us A Line

      Our Location

      Cowee Gift Shop & Mason Mountain Mine

      We are conveniently located 5.5 miles north of Franklin, NC in the Cowee Valley of Macon County.

      We sit nestled against Mason Mountain along Hwy 28 North between Franklin and Bryson City.

      All Rights Reseved © 2024 | Cowee Gift Shop and Mason Mountain Mine