The Hunt for Black Opals in Virgin Valley, Nevada: Royal Peacock Opal Mines

Fire OpalsMillions of years ago, Virgin Valley (located in the northwest corner of Humboldt County, Nevada) was covered by lakes and forests.  However, after numerous volcanic eruptions, the forests were buried under hundreds of feet of ash.  Under the tons of rock and ash, common silica was transformed into Fire Opal. 

Now the area is a high, arid desert, cut by rugged mountain ranges; and the opals are beautiful.  They weren’t discovered until the 1800s, and serious Virgin Valley prospecting began in 1905.  While there are several commercial mining operations and more than 200 private claims in the area which are producing Black Opals and Fire Opals, the Royal Peacock Opal Mines allows the public to dig for opals.  All you find are yours to keep!

This is the only place in the world where jet black opals with color are found.

The Royal Peacock Opal Mines are located near Denio, in northwest Nevada, close to the Oregon border. 

 

What does it cost?

To dig in the banks themselves, it costs $180 per person per day.  To dig in the tailings area and mine dumps, it costs $75 per person per day.  Children 12 and under can dig for free, accompanied by a paid adult, in the mine dumps and tailings only.  This might seem pricey, but the majority of new opals are still under ground just waiting for you to find them.

 

What tools do I need?

Bring your own tools with you.  They recommend you bring a short-handled, sharp-pointed pick (Estwing Hoe Pick), shovel, or garden rake; a #2 screwdriver, 8-inch-long blade ground to point, ice pick (or similar tools); small bucket-like container, plastic container, and ziplock bags; gloves; water squirt bottle; kneeling pad or carpet sample; hat; and sunscreen.  No mechanical tools are allowed.

 

Accommodations

If you want to spend the night at the mine, campers and tents can park there for $7 per day per person.  If you need a full RV hookup, it’s $35 per day and reservations are recommended.  They also have two furnished trailers available for $75 per day (reservations are required).  A shower, restroom, and laundry room are available.

If you’d rather stay in a motel, head for Denio Junction Station.  For motel reservations, call 1-775-941-0171.  There you will also find gas and diesel fuel, a restaurant, a saloon, and basic grocery supplies.

There are supermarkets in Winnemucca and Lakeview.  You can buy water, bags of ice, and snacks at the mine.

Another motel, with café and a gas station, is located nearby at The Fields Station.  Call 1-541-495-2275 for reservations.

 

Hours of Operation

The mine is open for public digging May 15 through October 15 (weather permitting).  Mining hours are 8-4, every day.  The Rock Shop is open daily 7:30-4:30.

 

For more information…….

Visit their website, located at http://www.royalpeacock.com/

E-mail:  maestes@frontiernet.net

Call:  1-775-941-0374

Write:  Royal Peacock Mine; #10 Virgin Valley Road; Denio, NV 89404

Comments

6 Comments on The Hunt for Black Opals in Virgin Valley, Nevada: Royal Peacock Opal Mines

  1. Donna Bray
  2. Never done anything like this before. My boyfriend and I are at Royal Peacock today and will be on the opal hunt over the next few days. Any tips or tricks you can think of that might be helpful??

  3. Hmmm
  4. WAY more expensive than other opal mines in the area. A little greedy are we?

  5. Ron Fitch
  6. I’ve been to the Royal Peacock mine once, and pretty much paid for my trip in value with my opals. 8 hours @ $180 for the day digging at the bank was more then reasonable considering from what I could find it was the only mine that was allowing bank digging for the public.

    End of the day I came home with a large amber to fire hued opal (that I accidentally split with my pick) that once finished should be around $200-$800 per HALF, and another dozen or so blacks that should be worth around $1200-$2400 for the lot if they don’t split during polishing/drying.

    So no I don’t think $180 for the day was too expensive when I went home with $1600-$4000 in value.

    Not bad for a newbie opal miner.

    I’m already planning my next trip and aim to spend 3-4 days there.

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