The opals were dug at the Royal Peacock Mine in the Virgin Valley. The vacation was planned after watching a show on the Travel Channel about where to find treasure in America. We didn’t pump ourselves up about really finding anything. It just looked like fun. I’m not the kind of person to want to go lay at a beach all day sipping fruity drinks, borrrring. Luckily my husband feels the same way. Plan on camping out at the campgrounds right there in the Valley, or plan on at least a 45 minute drive each day if you can get a room at the Denio Junction Hotel. There isn’t much else in the way of accomodations way out there. The Royal Peacock does have their own camp sites and they also have 3 furnished campers for rent (hint, call early, they go quickly!).
Our first day of digging proved us right in not expecting to hit an opal, except towards the very end of the day. I found a piece of potch that had some non-precious opal with it. That whetted the apetite. We moved to a different part of the bank the next morning and it wasn’t too long before we hit a ‘hot spot’. We staked our 5 feet (per person) on the bank and dug the same area for 4 more days. I consider us lucky as 85% or better of the people who came to dig did not find anything. They also were only digging for just one day. It takes a lot of hard work and moving a lot of dirt in hot windy weather (in August, anyway). It is a hit or miss situation. You could be just inches away from finding an opal, or feet away. We didn’t really get a chance to speak with Harry Wilson, one co-owner of the mine. He had a friend who was the guide to the dig and he had some good advice, don’t come expecting to leave paying for your vacation, those are the people who won’t find anything. We didn’t and had some terrific luck.
Believe me, there is nothing I’ve ever felt like the feeling that came over me with my first sight of opal flash from that clay bank. If you do take the chance and head out for some digging do a web search on Virgin Valley opal and visit some of the mine web sites. They all have good advice on what to bring for supplies. And even if you don’t find anything the scenery alone is worth a look.