Emerald Village is a fascinating group of gem, mining, and historical attractions nestled deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Little Switzerland, near Spruce Pine and within an hour's drive of Asheville. Located in a spectacular mountain setting, Emerald Village is home to seven real mines and has been featured on The Travel Channel. Many exhibits are free to enjoy. It's open April through November. It was recenterly featured on Travel Channel's "Ultimate World Access" and National Geographic Channel's "The Savage Line."
Explore the North Carolina Mining Museum (small admission fee) and take an underground tour of the historic Bon Ami Mine. Learn the history of mining in this area, see the splashing Bon Ami Waterfall, and marvel at world-class collections of old mining and historical equipment.
Experience the thrill of discovery at The Gemstone Mine, and choose from a variety of gem buckets available. Keep everything you find! Have your special finds made into beautiful jewelry for a very special souvenir.
The sprawling Discovery Mill building encompasses 10 different floor levels of shops and exhibits and covers a wide variety of themes and collections. All the displays are free to the public. As you climb the stairs each level offers a different vantage point to enjoy the impressive view looking into the Big Deal Mine.
The first floor houses the Crabtree Junction Shop, with information, clean restrooms, a variety of souvenirs and gifts, and the Deli. There’s an indoor picnic area available or you can use any of the outside picnic facilities.
Some of the other free attractions in Discovery Mill include:
- Model Railroad Exhibit
- Black Light Mineral Display
- Homestead Museum antique tools and equipment
- Worldwide Gem & Mineral Collection
- Native Wildlife Exhibits
- Antique Music Museum – awesome collection of organs, music boxes & more.
Pan for gold by the mine and choose from a large collection of local minerals for sale in the gift shops. Those looking for rugged adventure can dig for emeralds in the dumps of the world famous Crabtree Emerald Mine.
For a unique after-dark experience, take the guided Black Light Mine Tour and see the underground mine magically lit up with special ultraviolet lamps. The tours on special Saturday nights unlock vibrant hidden colors available only under ultraviolet light, commonly called black light. The brilliant coatings in the Bon Ami Mine are largely deposits of Hyalite Opal, a true form of opal found in this area. Under shortwave ultraviolet light, these coatings fluoresce or glow a vivid lime green.
Memorial Day Weekend: MineFest
Celebrate the mineral heritage of the mountains in the home of 12 historic mines. Enjoy free live music in the tent both days from 11 to 4, with some of the best mountain music in the area. Switzerland Café will serve scrumptious food. Both days will include underground mine tours, gem mining at the flume, gold panning, and rare mineral collecting on the dumps. Browse through the multi-level free Discovery Mill exhibits. Come back at 9 PM for a one-of-a-kind underground Black Light Mine Tour.
Labor Day Weekend Saturday Event: RockFest
Emerald Village has free live music, guided tours of mines, gem mining, gold panning, and the one-of-a-kind underground Black Light Mine Tour.