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With preparation and a little knowledge, a novice can have a great time finding top-quality gemstones. In this guide, you'll learn where to stay, what to bring, prospecting etiquette, digging tips, and screening tips.


You are welcome to camp at our mine. We have several camp trailers available for free. These are sleeping trailers only. We do take reservations for the trailers. We have six DEQ approved out-houses. We love to potluck. Please note the Camp Rules below.

Dust Devil Mining is more of a way of life than a business. While we take business very seriously, it has to be fun or we wouldn't be doing it. To make it fun for as many people as possible, we have a few things that are important to us.

1. Absolutely no illegal drugs. You will be asked to leave.

2. Light consumption of alcohol by persons over 21 is fine. If you get drunk and obnoxious we will ask you to go to your accommodations and sleep it off. Drinking is only allowed in non production areas as marked. Drinking in production areas could get us a MSHA fine that could put us out of business.

3. Please no profanity. We have a family oriented camp and want everyone to feel at home at the mine.

4. We recycle. We have separate containers for returnables, glass, metal and cardboard. Please sort your garbage and don't put anything in the garbage trailer that can be recycled.

5. Smokers please stay down wind from gathering places in camp. Please check with us to determine fire regulations. During high fire ratings smoking may be only allowed in your vehicle.

6. Please feel free to join in camp life. We enjoy getting to know new people and have made many great friends over the years.

7. Our most import rules are: Don't get hurt, and have fun.

Camping is allowed in the Sunstone Gem Collection Area just across the road from the Dust Devil Mine. The only amenity at this location is a pit toilet.

Camping is also allowed at Hart Mountain Hot Springs. Pit toilets are available and potable water is only 4 miles away at refuge headquarters. There is a campground at the warm springs in Virgin Valley.



Hunter's Hot Springs RV park is located in Lakeview.

Summer Lake Hot Springs RV Park (541-943-3931) is located about forty-five miles north of Valley Falls on Highway 31.

There is an RV park in Adel and one at the warm springs in Virgin Valley.

There are several motels in Lakeview as well as lodging at Hunter's Hot Springs Resort.

On the edge of Summer Lake, forty-five miles north of Valley Falls on Highway 31, you will find the beautiful Summer Lake Inn (1-800-261-2778).


To ensure a great time digging, here are a few things we recommend having:
  • Good Tires. Any way you come to the mine will be at least 20 miles of gravel road. A donut spare is unlikely to survive the drive back to the highway, so we recommend bringing a full-size spare tire on its own wheel.

  • Drinking Water. This is dry high desert country and you need to allow two gallons of drinking water per adult per day.

  • Food and high energy snacks. The Mine does not provide food for visitors. 

  • Cool clothing. It gets hot out here during the day.

  • Sun Screen and a protective hat. The sun can be intense here.

  • Warm clothing. It can freeze here any night of the year.

  • Your favorite shovel and screen if you have them. If not, we can loan you some.

  • Eye protection. Especially if you plan to use a pick or hammer to break up the brittle basalt parent rock.

  • Other digging implements such as work gloves, a hammer and pry bar, etc.

  • A good attitude. This is about having fun, making friends and finding pretty rocks. If this is your goal, then please come visit us.


Knowing and observing a few basic rules will help make everyone's digging more enjoyable and productive:
  • Be safe. Be careful in the way you dig and handle tools.

  • Have fun. That is what this experience is all about.

  • Be polite. To maximize everyone's enjoyment, please observe the following few points of mining etiquette:

  • The mine has many tools and screens for loan. If you are unsure whether a particular tool or screen is private property or is being used by someone, just ASK. Either way, you'll probably make a new friend.

  • Tools left inside or directly in front of a hole or spot on the wall were left there to indicate someone's work place. Please leave both the tools and the immediate area as they are.

  • Don't crowd other miners unless invited to do so. There is plenty of room, and any place in the mine can yield great stones.

  • When in doubt, see rule #2 above: HAVE FUN.


Sunstone mining is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. This is because a wide variety of tools and techniques can all produce good results. Some of these methods are outlined here. They are presented in order from most to least physically demanding, along with some important tips and tricks to help increase your fun and success.
  • What you're looking for: Rough sunstones are commonly found in sizes from the head of a pin to the size of a large peach pit - or even bigger. They may have a shiny, glassy appearance, or be dulled by dust or mud. They may be very clear, or show color from straw yellow to shades of red or green. Sunstones often contain a copper schiller that makes them flash like a brand new penny.


The walls of the mine pit can often be worked using a small pick or a pry bar and hammer (remember your eye protection). Some stones are found in the loose rocks this way, or after screening the broken rocks.

Any rock larger than a handball may conceal sunstone crystals of significant size. So, many people enjoy success from hammering rocks against each other or with a hammer and chisel. Often, large pockets of hidden crystals containing over a hundred carats of nice material are found in this way.

If you find crystal embedded in a rock, it is most easily removed by striking the side of the rock OPPOSITE the crystal with a chisel. Striking near the crystal is more likely to fracture it.


The mine pit usually contains several piles of earth. Many people simply sit down on a pile of dirt and slowly scratch through the sand and gravel using small garden tools or even their hands. This can be a surprisingly successful method, especially in a nice fresh pile of dirt. It also requires almost no physical exertion.


Another low-exertion method is to simply wander about, looking at the ground as you go. Large, valuable stones can be found almost anywhere in the mine pit at any time - often right under your feet.

The best time of day to walkabout is when the sun is very low in the sky. Walk facing toward the sun to see it light up stones on the surface like reflections on a pool of water. It is very exciting to spot a stone this way from a good distance.


Screening is one of the most popular and productive methods for finding sunstones. While it tends to produce the greatest total carat weight, all methods seem to be equally productive for larger stones.


Screening is one of the most popular and productive methods for finding sunstones. While it tends to produce the greatest total carat weight, all methods seem to be equally productive for larger stones.


  1. Use just enough raw material to cover the bottom of your screen with a SINGLE LAYER of gravel after shaking. Using too little will allow too much light to reflect up through the screen, confusing your search. Too much material will allow gravel to cover up valuable stones.

  2. Watch your screen carefully while shaking. Sunstones will often flash as they roll about, making them easier to see.

  3. When examining screenings, stand facing the sun so that sunlight will reflect through the sunstones toward your eyes. It is also a good idea to examine screenings from various angles and to roll the gravel about with your glove as you look.

  4. ALWAYS remember to LOOK UP through your screen before dumping it. Dusty stones will often be missed until you pass light through them.

  5. Smaller screens can be lifted overhead; kneel and peer up through larger ones. To avoid confusing glare, face AWAY from the sun while using this technique.

  6. The following three photos illustrate the importance of this last method.


 Mailing Address:

PO Box55

Plush, Oregon 97637


Don  Buford

P: 503-559-2495

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