A summer activity located in the village at the Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort. Purchase either a village pass for $35 to enjoy mini-golf, roller skating and gemstone panning. Or purchase just a bag of gems to run through the sluice.
Every child enjoys a good treasure hunt especially when it involves water and finding shiny objects. From our 3 year old to our 11 year old, everyone just couldn't get enough even though we walked home with a generous bag of gems, fossils, and shark teeth at the end of our gem panning session. I highly recommend buying the large bag because the quality of the gems were much more impressive.
After sifting through the silt and laying out their loot, our 8 and 11 year old had a lot of fun comparing them against the gem chart to figure out what they found. The whole experience took us a good hour and I was really surprised at how our 3 year old was fully absorbed by the activity the whole time.
Honestly, I usually shy away from activities like this because I've always thought they were kinda hokey or touristy, but after seeing how much fun the kids had with it and how such a wide age can enjoy the feeling of hunting for treasure. I've changed my mind! It was a nice souvenir to take home as well. The bonus is that the kids were pretty excited about reading more about gems and fossils after finding a bag of them they could keep.
*Disclosure: Northstar-at-Tahoe invited us to experience a number of summer activities including gem mining at the Northstar Village. However, as always, these opinions are entirely my own along.