Rocks are the foundation of our very world, they make up the ground beneath our feet, hold the oceans that teem with life, preserve our fossil record, and so much more. If you are interested in geology, your next summer holiday can easily be themed around rocks. Here are the top 5 spots in the world for rock lovers to vacation.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Located in Arkansas, this state park allows you to dig and pan for your own diamonds and other gemstones. A small fee to get into the park covers you for the whole day and you can even rent equipment. Some of the largest gemstones in the USA have been found at the park. Registration and identification of your finds are free, with the park regularly announcing some of the more amazing finds on their own social media. The park has been producing amazing diamonds and other gemstones for years, with more land exposed every day.
Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes
Jeju island in South Korea is one of the most important places in the world for geologists. Here multiple formations and features from hundreds of thousands of years of volcanic history coexist. You can walk inside actual lave tubes, see black sand beaches made up completely of volcanic rock, hike volcanic ridges, and swim inside unique volcanic lakes. The local craftsmen make statues and home goods out of volcanic rock.
The area is also home to impressive troves of fossils and various mineral deposits, even going so far as to have a dinosaur-themed amusement park, aptly named “Dinosaur Land” with thousands of fossils on display.
The Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens in Byron Bay
Australia is home to one of the biggest Amethyst caves in the world. Formed under extreme pressure the cave is actually big enough for people to walk inside. Technically this 18-foot cave isn’t actually a cave, but a giant geode. The Byron bay attraction has a crystal gift shop, a surprisingly large garden, and has a large number of other giant crystals that make for great photo opportunities. Guests can book meditation sessions inside the geode and the owners are happy to speak about the history of their specimens, regularly giving workshops about the amazing properties of the minerals that they sell and display.
Technically two parks in one, the U-Dig Quarry shares a border with Topaz Mountain, another self-mining attraction that can easily be incorporated into a day trip. The quarry itself used to part of an ocean, though it receded long ago, it left behind layers of shale and highly pressurized rock. Buried in the rock are marine fossils including trilobites and fossilized coral. On-site identification helps you understand what you have found.
Topaz Mountain as the name suggests is Topaz mine, with high-quality specimens available. Traditional and more modern prospecting methods are both allowed on the guided tours provided and visitors keep everything that they find.
Both locations are regularly checked over and have more areas opened via blasting or excavation to ensure that everyone who visits gets to dig in new places. You will never have an experience where they are picked over and you don’t find anything.
Þingvellir National Park – Iceland
One of the few places in the world where you can walk between a tectonic plate, this above water area lets you literally walk between the continents. The areas where the plates collided and created craters and valleys hundreds of thousands of years ago are still exposed today, allowing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for exploration. The geology of the park gets even more interesting with glacial lakes, sheer ice eroded cliffs, and geysers that have formed amazing colored rocks over thousands of years.