It’s fair to say the pandemic has unraveled travel plans, putting our much-needed vacations on hold. Most of us haven’t left our homes since last March, and boredom has long-ago set in. Looking back on the uncertainty of last year makes us all the more excited to welcome a new spring season; and the re-opening of The Herkimer Diamond Mines on April 15, 2021.
Even before the pandemic sent us searching for road trip destinations and socially distanced outdoor adventures, interest in prospecting and rockhounding had been on the rise over the past few years. The fun and excitement will undoubtedly continue this year as more of us leave the isolation of our homes and take to the road again.
True, Herkimer Diamonds aren’t actual diamonds. They are beautiful double-terminated quartz crystals found in the Herkimer, New York area. These magnificent works of nature are close to 500 million years old and formed primarily within dolomite limestone rock. They have a diamond-like clarity and geometrical shape, thus the name “Herkimer Diamond.” You can read about Herkimer Diamonds and learn about their geology and history in Uncovering New York.
What’s New, Different, and Still Loved at The Herkimer Diamond Mines in 2021
One facet of The Herkimer Diamond Mines that we’ve always treasured is the wide-open, albeit a little rocky, access to the above ground surface mines. These spaces allow for social distancing and all-day enjoyment of the great outdoors. Plan your visit during the spring season and you’ll be treated to a bounty of budding trees and green grasses blanketing the ledges on top of the mines and on the surrounding creek bed.
Beginning April 15, 2021, the Village Hall (Registration) and Prospecting Area (Mining) will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the Mines is $14 per person (ages 13 and up), and $12 per person (ages 5 to 12). Children 4 years and under are free. As in years past, your admission includes an all-day prospecting wristband ticket, use of a two-to-three-pound sledge hammer to break the dolomite limestone in the mines, and plastic baggies to hold the Herkimer Diamonds you find. Goggles are recommended and are available for purchase. It is also recommended that guests wear closed toe shoes and dressing according to the weather.
Depending on your level of interest, we recommend setting aside between two and eight hours for you visit.
Mining for Herkimer Diamonds is easy, and can be enjoyed by family members of all ages. Beginners and young children will have the best luck at discovering loose quartz crystals by searching the ground, flipping rocks, and sifting through loose material. If it’s sunny, you may notice surface crystals sparkle as you walk. Surface crystals usually ranging from the size of a poppy seed to a pencil eraser are also in abundance and more easily spotted after a rain storm when the dirt is gently disturbed by the rain drops.
For more advanced miners, try your luck at finding Herkimer Diamonds within the porous dolomite limestone rock that fills the mines. Look for a rock covered with small dark holes. These holes are called “vugs,” and are most likely to contain Herkimer Diamonds. Strike the rock with your hammer and be sure to check each piece that breaks off. If you discover a Herkimer Diamond within a rock, it’s best to leave it in place unless it wiggles like a loose tooth. Trying to forcibly remove it from the rock could fracture the crystal. Herkimer Diamonds are just as valuable when left attached to their host rock.
Remember, as long as you can carry it out of the mine, you can keep everything you find!
Since our last guide to digging for diamonds at The Herkimer Diamond Mines, the roster of dining options has grown to include The Canteen Café and Miners’ Table. The Canteen Café offers casual lunch fare, cold drinks, snacks, and even soft-serve ice cream. Outdoor seating is available under a wooden canopy. During the regular season, The Canteen Café is open seven days a week, Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.—with dinner service beginning at 3 p.m.—and Wednesday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Miners’ Table offers a number of culinary delights including gourmet wood-fired pizza, pastas, seafood, chicken, pork, and house-smoked ribs, as well as a full menu of local craft beers and ciders, and wines. During the regular season, Miners’ Table is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
During the regular season, visitors can shop for a variety of souvenirs, geological specimens, loose Herkimer Diamonds, Herkimer Diamond jewelry and much more at the Trading Post retail store. The Trading Post is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After finding your Herkimer Diamond, visit the Artisan Center to create beautiful custom jewelry. You can choose from a variety of jewelry making accessories; and prices vary based on the options you select. During the regular season, the Artisan Center is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Herkimer Diamond Mines now has an online store where enthusiasts from all over the world can shop for unique gifts, natural and faceted Herkimer Diamonds, and exquisite jewelry pieces. We encourage you to visit their online store.
Elevate your experience at The Herkimer Diamond Mines when you spend the night with us at Grand Colonial Bed and Breakfast. We’re located at 112 W German Street in Herkimer, NY, just 8-minutes away from the mines.
If you’re seeking a truly one-of-a-kind getaway, there is no better way to experience The Herkimer Diamond Mines and the local Mohawk Valley region than with a comfortable night’s rest and the best-in-town homemade breakfast, specially prepared for you each morning. With all the comforts of home, we deliver a level of personalized service and exceptional hospitality you won’t find at chain hotels near Herkimer.
Immerse yourself in the historic charm of our 1800s Colonial-style house—featuring four en suite guest rooms with modern amenities, free Wi-Fi and parking, comfortable bedding and private bathroom.
Stay with us and discover how we will exceed your expectations of cleanliness, comfort, and personalized service for a truly memorable visit to the Herkimer Diamond Mines.
Book directly at grand-colonial.com or by phone at 315-982-5004. Cancellation is free for all direct booking reservations.
To learn more about what we’re doing to ensure the health and safety of our guests during the COVID-19 pandemic, please read our Stay Safe & Well Commitment.
2020 is finally in the rearview mirror, and we wish you plenty of safe adventures ahead. See you on the road!