NOTE: Our mining season is finally underway! Thank you all for your patience while we’ve been working on our operation setup.
We have some unfortunate news, we will not be able to book open public digs this season. However, we ARE BOOKING visits to both sites for all mineral clubs. If you would like to visit us, please contact one of the many local clubs throughout Colorado. Our clubs do a great job of filling all spots we make available and constantly help new members foster their love for digging.
This year has thrown us some curveballs and we’ve done our best to accommodate as many visitors as possible. Please understand how much we appreciate you all and we are still looking to try and add some open digs in August. We will see many of you this summer!
You may be able to arrange a visit for collecting or for education. Please understand, this is not always possible due to our schedule and manpower. Also, I would appreciate your support at gem and mineral shows for keeping the mines accessible for visits. All sales at mineral shows directly go toward keeping our claims and mining operation going.
Special Notes: As of 2009, you are not allowed to take any motor vehicles beyond signed gates (green gates or posts with signs Active Mining Area; No unauthorized motor vehicles beyond this point; By direction of U. S. Forest Service) onto our claims if I am not present. If I’m there, no problem! I was required to gate my claims and to pay a bond for the roads (yes, it’s multi-thousands of dollars). This is per Forest Service regulations. They will be ticketing you if you do not have written permission to be there from me. “I know Joe Dorris, and he gave me permission,” is no longer acceptable. (This reflects their efforts to equally enforce regulations for all mine owners.) If you have arranged a visit, then I will be on site and this is not a problem.
Visit the Topaz Claim
Visits must be arranged through club digs, email: email@example.com and by calling our business: 719-685-4479. We prefer email if available. This is an operational mine and we do not have a concession permit which is required by the Forest Service for the public to visit and dig as was previously the case with the former owner. The insurance costs and Forest Service special use fee make this impossible.
I do arrange with clubs for “digs” (limit to 40 persons, but kids don’t count against the 40).
OTHERWISE, NO DIGGING OR TRESPASSING IS ALLOWED. Digging of any kind and picking up minerals of any kind violate the Forest Service and State permits and Federal law. Unless you have specific written permission from me, Joseph L. Dorris, you do not have permission to dig or pick up minerals on this mine.
Generally we will be operating the last couple weeks in May and the last two weeks in September. Otherwise, we will be operating on our amazonite claims and only working the topaz mine irregularly. However, during amazonite operations, your club or group, may be able to arrange a visit to the topaz claims. We will have ore stockpiled which you can work and I will send someone out to be your host.
Directions to Topaz Mountain Gem Mine
From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Lake George. Drive through Lake George and turn north on Park County Road 77 (Tarryall Road). Go approximately 6.5 miles. Turn right onto road and cross Tarryall Creek. You should see the brown Forest Service sign marking the road (F. S. Road 211) also known as the Matakat Road. Proceed about 2 miles and pass through cattleguard. You are now on Topaz Mountain Gem Mine. Operating sign is posted on fence on your left. Park in pullout on the right, next to Forest Service information sign. Walk up to where we are operating and ask for Joe Dorris.
Tools to Bring
I may have a mechanical or power shaker on site for clubs who have arranged visits. During the season, I will also have a portable toilet on site.
The most important tool is a garden rake with heavy tines. Use the rake to rake the piles and loosen up the gravel. I also recommend you bring your own screen (mesh no larter than 3/8″ or you will lose some good topaz), a small hand rake, good shovel, small rock hammer with good point, and a small canister for your finds. Also bring appropriate clothing, water, sunscreen, and insect repellant. Wear boots (with good traction), gloves, hat for the sun, possible coat for cold weather, and rain gear. Afternoons often cloud up and we have thunderstorms.
You may also bring an empty 5-gallon bucket to take home a bucket of gravel if you wish.
This is not a fee-dig site; however, you will be asked to purchase a $50 bag of topaz gravel per individual or family couple (kids do not count). This helps pay for the operation and facilities such as the port-a-let. Although the gravel comes from the mine and may very well contain a “wild” topaz or two, I add several stones, including at least one good cutter, to ensure you get your money’s worth. Of course, you are welcome to keep any topaz you find in the bag of gravel. I will also have additional bags for sale. Just ask!
All subsequent topaz you find on your own during your visit is the property of Glacier Peak Mining. If you wish to buy a topaz you find, I will generally sell it to you. If so, it will be at a wholesale rate (about half its value). Otherwise, I will give all persons who visited during the day some samples (assuming we find some). If you don’t find anything, let me know! You are also welcome to keep any smoky quartz crystals you find.
If you are actively helping us in our operations, either raking while we are operating the back hoe or by loading and working with the mechanized shaker, all the stones found will be placed in a company jar. At completion of operations you may be allowed to purchase one or more of the stones you helped find. Additionally, you will be given some of the smaller stones. (This is assuming we find some. On some days, we don’t.)
You are always welcome to visit and observe the operations when we are on site. You do not have to participate, but may just watch if you like. In that case, I may or may not have gravel to offer you for sale. I plan to have sufficient gravel for clubs or persons who have arranged in advance to visit, but may not have additional bags.
If you wish to purchase a bag of topaz gravel, e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also find some available at The Picket Fence (Claire Shaw), 723 Goldhill Place, in Woodland Park (719) 687-2860. We sell some of our finished jewelry, specimens, books and cut stones through them.
The mine closes at 4 PM (or earlier in the event of bad weather). At that time, bring your finds to Joe or your host to have them assessed. You will normally be allowed to purchase the very best one(s) and be given some of the smaller, or lesser topaz (depending on what you find).
You must understand and agree to abide by the safety briefing and sign a liability release.
Visit Amazonite/Smoky Claim
Visits must be arranged through club digs, email@example.com, and by calling our business: 719-685-4479. We prefer email if available. Only some of the claims are open to visits. You must sign a liability release form.
These are operational mines and we do not have a concession permit which is required by the Forest Service for fee digging. The insurance costs and Forest Service special use fee make this impossible.
I do arrange with clubs for digs, and when I am on site, people are welcome to visit. Otherwise, no digging or mineral trespass is allowed. Digging of any kind and picking up minerals of any kind violate the Forest Service and State permits and Federal law. Unless you have specific written permission from me, Joseph L. Dorris, you do not have permission to dig or pick up minerals on any Glacier Peak properties.
Generally we will be operating with mechanized equipment from June through the end of July. This is the best time to visit (except Sundays). I may also be doing reclamation work at other times. Trips may be arranged at any time depending on weather and accessibility; however, I will not always be available to fit your schedule. Call early please.
If you are in the Crystal Peak District, you can recognize my claims by the red- and white-topped posts. (Please note that I am not the only claim owner who uses this marking. Make certain you know who’s claims you are on.)
Directions to Forest Service Work Station or Access Gate to National Forest
I will arrange to meet you at either the Lake George Forest Service Work Station or at the National Forest access gate. I will escort you to the selected area from that point. Please be sure to verify the meeting spot before your scheduled visit.
From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Lake George. Immediately before Lake George, turn north on Park County Road 94. Go approximately 100 yards to the Forest Service Work Station on right side. (Park along road if necessary. Do not block access to the work station.)
If going to the National Forest gate, continue past the work station on Park County 94 (also Trail Creek Road). Stay on Trail Creek Road about 4 miles to the private gate. You will see a sign that points left and a brown plastic Forest Service marker for F.S. Road 201. Turn left and follow Road 201 about .5 mile to the National Forest gate. Note that private property is on both sides of the road until you pass through this gate.
Road 201 is drivable to the access gate with a regular car; however, beyond the F. S. gate, the road is best accessible by 4WD. Seriously, 4WD LOW. Usually people park within the gate and buddy up in 4WD past this point.
Tools to Bring
Generally bring heavy-duty digging tools. If you plan on serious digging, most collectors like a rock hammer, screwdriver or wood skewers (for collecting pockets), shovel, pick, chisel or gad bar, and cracking hammer. (You should arrange with others in your party to ensure you have sufficient proper tools.) Additionally, you need safety glasses, gloves, hardhat and ear protection (if visiting or entering the excavations) (I will have a few spares), good boots, and appropriate clothing for weather (heat to snow and rain). Also bring water, sunscreen, and insect repellant. Afternoons often cloud up and we have thunderstorms. You need to also bring a bag or pack, wrapping paper, and possibly a 5-gallon bucket, for collecting specimens.
If you are surface hunting or going through the tailings, most people like a small hand rake and a rock hammer.
Also be prepared for hiking through difficult terrain.
This is not a fee-dig site. You are always welcome to visit and observe the operations when we are on site. If your club arranges a “digging” visit, you are my guest and may be helping me for a short while in the excavations. Otherwise, you will be given a designated area where you can dig on your own or search the surface for amazonite and smoky quartz.
Remember when digging, fill your hole when finished.
You are allowed to keep what you find on the tailings or surface.
If you are digging and encounter a crystal cavity, you must report this to me. If possible, I will inspect the pocket. If it is a significant pocket, I or Glacier Peak personnel will assist in collecting. If it is a combination amazonite and smoky quartz pocket, I will retain the pocket (Otherwise, most other pockets you will be allowed to collect and keep.) I will attempt to clean the pocket as quickly as possible and give the finder(s) a piece or pieces. Generally, I will return the lesser pieces to the finder(s) as well. If exceptional, and the finder wants, he or she will have first right of refusal on pieces when they become offered for sale.
Experience shows that everyone finds lots of stuff and gets to take home lots of specimens. You should easily find both amazonite and smoky quartz cutting rough. You should also expect to find a few crystals of each. If your club wants me to bring specimens to offer for sale, please inform me; otherwise, I will not bring any specimens to the claims.
Visiting clubs and individuals may help support the operation and keep the claims open to collecting by purchasing specimens from me at shows.
We will have mineral specimens available for sale at the claims if you are interested. We greatly appreciate these sales as they directly help us continue our mining explorations.