Driving on Ontario’s roads in the fall is an absolutely gorgeous experience, because you’ll be surrounded by trees changing colour and breathing in lovely crisp air. Thunder Bay, about 14 hours away from Toronto, is an accessible destination that’s home to one of the most fun fall activities you could hope for: amethyst mining. Amethyst are Ontario’s official gemstone, and the gorgeous purple rocks can be used in jewellery, aquariums, gardens, or for home decor, so there’s really no reason not to go pick up a few. Amethyst mining is a fun activity to do and is also quite cheap, and depending on the mine, you can fill a gallon bucket for just $10.
In the areas between Thunder Bay and Nipigon, the most lucrative amethyst mines operate during the year. A few of these mines are open to the public from May to October, and they allow you to wander an open pit searching for amethyst specimens. You won’t need a pickaxe or any fancy equipment, just wear proper clothes for the weather and close-toed shoes, and you’ll be set.
There are three amethyst mines that are quite popular with tourists, and they are Blue Points, Amethyst Mine Panorama in Shuniah, and then Diamond Willow on Highway 5. You’ll find countless signs advertising their locations on the Hwy 5. If you don’t feel like heading out that far, there are lots of tourist shops that sell all sorts of amethyst creations and specimens.
Once you’ve picked your fill of amethysts, just take them home and clean them with a toothbrush, and if you’ve a rock tumbler then you can use those to smooth the pieces. Don’t chuck any amethyst pieces that haven’t been smoothed down into an aquarium, because fish could scratch themselves on the rocks and hurt themselves very badly.
This article was updated on 10-14-2018