Did you ever wish you could pan for gold in the old west or perhaps join an archaelogical dig where a new type of dinosaur has been discovered? I always thought that would be an amazing experience.

As part of this insatiable desire we humans have to find treasure, a new fun family activity has been borne -- gemstone and fossil mining with old-time sluices. We'd seen a few sluices operating at some of our fellow cave owner's sites and were intrigued. After testing some out and seeing how much fun they were, we decided to invest in our own sluice and contacted the expects - Sandy Creek Mining. They designed a sluice to meet our specific needs and sent it out within just a few weeks. It's a site to behold.

For those of you unfamiliar with sluices, here's a quick explanation. A sluice is an artificial water channel that that is controlled by a valve or gate. When the valve is opened or the gate lifted, the water flows through. Sluices are used to separate gems from what's called mining rough. In the old days, people would collect a pan of sand and use a screen and a sluice to separate the gold from the sand. They would place their screen in the sluice water flow which would then remove the sand debris and leave the treasure. That's what we're doing at Stark Caverns, except you purchase a bag of mining rough rather than scooping it up from a creekbed. You place the mining rough in one of our sluice screens and use the water flow of the sluice to separate your treasures (gemstones or fossils) from the course sand.

We offer 3 options -- Pay Dirt (gemstones), Fossil Find (fossils), and Mother Lode (a huge combination of both). Come on and give it a try. With enough practice you may be ready to take on that real gold panning adventure or the achaelogical dig.