5/20/2018   THIS PAGE IS UNDER RECONSTRUCTION, please check back


ROYAL PEACOCK OPAL MINE, VIRGIN VALLEY (FEE DIG).   The best  fee dig in the Valley- Highly recommended!!   Both undisturbed bank and tailings digging.  Pay campground (with electric), hot showers, flush toilets, and small store, a few trailer/cabins for rent.  The world's largest precious opal log was found at the fee dig mine here in the 1990's.  I would recommend digging for at least 2 or 3 days or longer.  The more time you have to dig, the better your chances at finding an opal, although "first timers" have found beautiful opals in one day.  You can learn alot from the other experienced opal diggers staying at the campground here.  The friendliest place in the Valley!


The Virgin Valley area contains a barely scratched precious opal reserve and resource, and is part of a 68,000 acre area set aside for entry under the general mining laws.  The opal-bearing areas are spread out over a large area, but the precious opal occurrences are smaller isolated deposits within the region.  Common opal is just that,  "common," and can be found throughout the area, along with petrified wood, agate, and obsidian.  Most precious opal producing ground is covered by valid mining claims.  Very few of the nearly 200 claims in the Valley actually produce precious opal.  There are five patented mine groups in the mining district.  Virgin Valley is considered to be the premiere source of precious opal in the United States (Jones, 2004, p.14).  The most productive mines to date have been the famous Royal Peacock, Virgin Opal (Bonanza), and Rainbow Ridge Mines (USGS, 1984, p.6).  Virgin Valley is located in the isolated extreme northwestern corner of the State of Nevada in Humboldt County, within the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.  The closest town is Denio (NV) about 32 miles to the northeast (paved road).  Lakeview (OR) is 95 miles northwest (paved road), and Winnemucca (NV) is about 120 miles southeast (paved road).  Virgin Valley can also be accessed from Cedarville (CA), 56 miles away, during summer months by gravel road (not recommended unless experienced with this area).  The closest gas is available in Fields, Oregon (See LINKS, BELOW).  The average high desert mining season is from May until November, but the area is sometimes accessible year-round, weather permitting.  

Virgin Valley precious opals are considered to be the brightest and most colorful opals in the world, and on many occasions, have been found in remarkably large pieces.  The world's record-size precious opal weighed 130 pounds and was found in the Northern Lights Mine (fee dig) of the Royal Peacock Mine group in Virgin Valley.  However, Virgin Valley opals have also gained the notorious reputation for cracking or crazing and being unstable for gems.  It is true that the majority of opal found in Virgin Valley is not suitable for cutting or polishing.  Rough stones are best placed in liquid-filled display domes which make breathtaking display specimens.  Nothing can compare to a precious crystal black opal specimen from Virgin Valley, but few stand up to the test of time as gemstones.  Some area miners will sell treated opals, ie., treated with "Opticon," "Opal Cure," or other plastic polymer fracture fillers which attempt to hide the cracks or crazing in the opal.  These "treated" stones have been enhanced to hide the cracks and flaws in the stone, and this should be disclosed, and correspondingly, priced far below  what a natural uncrazed opal from a reputable field in Australia would cost.  This is not to say that Australian opals don't crack, as a good percent does; however, the Virgin Valley field is known for producing more unstable opal than probably any other field in the world.  As specimens in glass filled domes, there are no comparisons to the color and "fire" of Virgin Valley Opal.   The statements as to instability and treatment also goes for the "Conk" opal.  Most conk opal is a light brown color, and is very soft.  It has a tendency to split or crack along the opal pores, and to pit when polished.  Treating the wood with polymers holds the stone together and darkens the material which makes the opal stand out brighter.  These stones should also be disclosed as treated, and priced accordingly, far below what a natural solid Boulder opal would be priced.  Put very simply, that is why you will see many of these types of opals sit in the local shops or dealer displays for years, and decades, without being sold.  People know they are unstable and do not want to pay the unreasonably high asking prices for them.  I would say that the vast majority of opal from Virgin Valley should be classified as specimen material, although stones have survived as gems (but the question is for how long).  One example is the famous Robeling Black Opal from the Rainbow Ridge Mine in Virgin Valley.  It was discovered in 1917 and remained stable for many years, and then began to crack and craze while on display in the Smithsonian in the 1940's or 1950's.  Now the stone's surface is covered with these fractures.  It is still a beautiful specimen.  Don't be fooled, brilliantly colored opal specimens in wet domes from Virgin Valley are not "cheap" and sell for high prices, being in demand by collectors.

Despite the fact that most of the opal from Virgin Valley is plagued with the demonstrated instability, many diggers have been coming to Virgin Valley for years and even decades to dig the beautiful opal found within the hard clay zones and deposits there.  Rarely, promising claims are offered for sale and proven claims are "quickly snapped up by a hopeful digger" (Turley, 1987, p. 50).  Many claim owners do not even work their claims, or only do so on a hobby basis, or hold onto the deposits as an investment while only performing the minimally required annual labor.  There is much potential for the Virgin Valley deposits as has been demonstrated by several producing mines that have been operated successfully for years and even decades.  Fee-digging operations bring in the majority of  local business, followed by the sale of  "gem" and specimen material locally and at gem and mineral shows. Everyone is always interested in digging in a "new" productive mine which is opened to the public.  In recent years, several other well-known claims and producing mines in Virgin Valley (the Royal Peacock and Bonanza Opal Mines) have been featured on the Travel Channel's "Cash & Treasures" TV program.

If you are considering the lease or purchase of an opal mining claim for sale in Virgin Valley, Nevada, you should READ THIS INFORMATION FIRST! (CLICK HERE FOR LINK).

  The purpose of this paragraph is to provide you with some basic information about what a mining claim is, and what you can and cannot do with a mining claim.   A mining claim is a parcel of land which is valuable for the mineral deposit therein.  When you locate or purchase an unpatented mining claim, you do not get the rights to the land-- what you get is the right to the mineral deposit covered by the claim and the right to own, access, develop, and extract that mineral deposit.  There are different types of mining claims (Lode, Placer, Tunnel Site, and Millsite) and the rights involved with each varies.  You cannot  get lode rights by acquiring a placer claim.  Millsites must be located on non-mineral ground and are used for processing activities related to the minerals.  You cannot use a mining claim for activities which are not related to mining.  Mining Claims can be sold, willed, inherited or transferred.  A good general reference on mining claims is the online booklet published by the US Dept of the Interior/BLM entitled "MINING CLAIMS AND SITES ON FEDERAL LAND" (Click on the title for link to open to book on BLM website). This is a great introduction to mining claims.  Another excellent reference is: Papke, K., & David, D. (2002)  Mining Claim Procedures for Nevada Prospectors and Miners.  Special Publication 6.  5th Edition.  Nevada Bureau of Mines & Geology, Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno.  CLICK HERE FOR LINK to PDF on ICMJ.

Read more on our informational page about Mining Claims, types, rights, rules & regulations, etc HERE.


***During the Summer months (May thru October 25th) you can make an appointment to see any claim we are offering for sale in Virgin Valley, just CLICK HERE TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.

Map to the Virgin Valley Opal Mines.  You can get directions from your location by clicking "View larger map" which will take you to the large map on google maps.  


The clickable PDF to the right shows ACTIVE mining claims in Virgin Valley as of 4.26.2018.  New claims are added often so you should always look for posts, notices, and check with the County and BLM for new and existing claims.  Mineral Trespass, unauthorized digging, and theft is very serious and is prosecutable both criminally and in civil court.  

ROVEN and DEMONSTRATED precious opal claims in Virgin Valley ( I have ranked these in order of value):​

1. ROYAL PEACOCK GROUP (6 patented claims) = PROVEN  + Extn Group unpatented (Kelly, Skawjm) = PROVEN

2. RAINBOW RIDGE GROUP (6 patented claims) = PROVEN

3. BONANZA GROUP (5 patented claims) = PROVEN  + Extn Group unpatented (V.O/Buffs, shown opal @3 areas) = PROVEN

4. WRT STONETREE/DOMINION GROUP (4 unpatented claims SHOWING PRECIOUS OPAL Equivalent to fee digs) = PROVEN


6. REED GROUP (2 patented claims) = PROVEN

7. OPAL QUEEN GROUP (__ unpatented claims) = PROVEN

8. TONI FIRE OPAL / KALEIDOSCOPE Group (5 unpatented claims with 3 areas showing opal) = demonstrated/PROVEN

9. MAYDAY Mine (2 unpatented claims with proven opal)

10. SUNRISE (1 unpatented placer near Bonanza with demonstrated opal)

11. GREENFIRE CLAIM Old proven mine

12. SUGAR GROUP (opal showing one claim, demonstrated)

13. OPAL NEGRA mostly contraluz but occasional crystal/black



16. CECILIE ANN GROUP proven matrix opal but not high value

17. MEYER GROUP (2 unpatented claims, CLOSED/NON-LOCATABLE WITHDRAWN) = Proven; however, stable opal but less color



20. *

21.  *

22. *

23.   *

Try asking to buy any one of the above proven claims and see what the asking price is!!  That will put it into perspective.   

Also keep in mind, the lode deposit has never been "found" or demonstrated on the "SWORDFISH" claims by John Church; all he has ever found there were what he calls "tailings" opal and chips (left behind by miners who culled opal at the location near the dugout and springs were at their camp- there was NEVER a mine here, the Lockheed digs were south of Rainbow Ridge not on Sagebrush Creek!), and only some "placer" nodules in the wash.  NO PRECIOUS OPAL BEARING GROUND HAS EVER EXISTED ON THE SWORDFISH and I would like to know how that managed to get published in a book, somebody was fooled, by JOHN CHURCH.  The old Jim Marks Claim (Joy Lu 5 {MinSurv#____}, Joy Lu 55) now relocated & renamed the "Shhhh" by John Church et al does not have any precious opal in valuable quantity- this location is mostly common opal limbcasts and wood and THIS CLAIM HAS NOT MET ALL PREREQUISITES REQUIRED FOR PATENT which John Church claims on his website.  Only a few small pieces of precious opal were ever found there in the wood (one piece of green conk), and nothing that would demonstrate or warrant major expenditures). Jim told and showed me this back in 1994 and he reclaimed the original Joy Lu 5 as the Joy Lu 55 hoping to make a new discovery after the claim lapsed, but never did. There was a LOT of common opal limbs and wood on that claim, just nothing precious overall.   WHICH LEADS TO THE QUESTION, if a legal action arises in Virgin Valley, HOW MANY CLAIMS CAN PROVE VALID DISCOVERY AND CURRENT VALIDITY?  VERY FEW, likely only the claims listed above.  If there isn't precious opal currently showing or coming out or easily exposed within a couple of days work, the claim is likely lacking a valid discovery.  JOHN CHURCH DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THIS AND BY RAMBLING OFF IS PUTTING EVERYONES CLAIMS IN JEOPARDY IF AN ACTION ARISES.  

Buying a claim or mine? Read this first! NEVADA OPAL MINING CLAIMS FOR SALE in Virgin Valley, Nevada: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
​There are a number of things to research before buying a mining claim in Virgin Valley, and many factors affecting claim rights, and the type and amount of opal you will find on your own claim.  There are now a number of unscrupulous people online just staking & selling claims near where existing deposits are, but don't actually have anything on them.  YOU MUST DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH to determine the real from the fake!  Older claims or claims which have been continually held and restaked for decades are a good indicator that there is something there, but always check out the deposit BEFORE buying!  Bidding on a newly staked claim offered on Ebay will likely land you with a piece of ground that is worthless.
          Please keep in mind that real gemstone mining properties are not cheap and do come with a significant price tag.  Unless the seller is desperate to sell and needs money quick for whatever reason, don't expect to get a gemstone (or even a gold) claim cheap!   Simply put, don't expect to get a producing precious opal claim for less than $25,000., regardless of what anyone in the Valley tells you.    Productive black opal claims generally start at $50,000.- and can reach over $100,000.- per claim.  Don't be fooled, nobody in their right mind will sell you a claim that has quality gem opal coming out for less than it's worth.  There might be auctions on ebay for gem claims, or gem claims offered on other websites starting at a  few thousand dollars to 15k or so, etc., but BUYER BEWARE of any mining claim pricing that is  not realistic.
          If someone offers to sell you a producing precious opal claim for less, they should be able to take you to the claim and dig for several hours or days with a pick or heavy equipment until "fire" or "play-of-color" (precious opal) is uncovered to prove that PRECIOUS (not just common) opal is coming out of the claim.  Beware of salted claims where opal has been "sprinkled" about the diggings, placed in the wall/bank, or thrown out in the tailings to fool you.   Take into consideration what a nice cut opal sells for and/or what opal sells for as wet specimens, and what the fee digs charge for one days worth of digging- in 2015, it was $600.- per day for one dozer load scoop at the Rainbow Ridge Mine, or $190.- to dig in the bank at the Royal Peacock.  These fee digs are good if you don't want to own & work your own claim....  but do keep in mind the prices charged per day.  That puts into perspective the price of a real gemstone mine's value and selling price.  If the asking price could buy you a house, will the claim produce enough revenue to buy you a house in 10-20 years or less?  Will it produce enough revenue to pay the monthly bills?  All of the patented claims are PROVEN producers.  Most of the 150+/-unpatented opal claims in Virgin Valley today are SPECULATIVE at best.  This means there is not opal currently showing.  I know of only less than two dozen claims that have PROVEN PRECIOUS opal out of all the 150+/- claims in the valley (Click Here to see list).  My Dad has 3 and our friend Tom has the fourth out of the 10 claims making up the WRT group with precious opal PROVEN (all digs are backfilled to prevent theft).  There just aren't that many producing or proven claims left in the Valley.  Undisputably there are more discoveries to be found.  Keep all of this in mind.  The following should guide you in regards to an opal LODE mining claim purchase in Virgin Valley:

  • Barren claim, possible opal from indicators, starting at $1,000.- to $2,500.-
  • Common opal found on claim, starting at $2,500.- to $3,500.-
  • Claim where precious opal has been found in past but not showing currently, little to no development, $3,500.- to $7,000.- maximum.
  • The "grey" area, $7,000.- to $40,000.-
  • Claim where precious opal is showing consistent (but no black opal), minor workings/ development $40,000.- to $75,000.-
  • Claim where precious opal is showing consistent (incl. black opal), bulldozed workings/development, $75,000.- to $200,000.+
  • World-class deposits where precious black & other opal is consistent, with workings, and ore reserves, will start at $225,000.+ and are open ended on the upper price range.  These rarely become available, if ever.  There are only a handful of these claims in the valley (about 12 mines) that would fit in this category and all but 4 are patented.  The "Swordfish" Group does NOT fall in this category.  
  • Patented claims generally start at $250,000.- or more, to over $6 Million, they RARELY are available for sale, if ever.  There are ONLY 5 patented mines in Virgin Valley: Rainbow Ridge, Bonanza, Royal Peacock, Reed's, & Birdlebough's. 

There are many factors which determine an opal claims value and price, such as current and past production;  types of opal;  road access; development; improvements; access to water, power & electric; amount of overburden above lode; amount of opal bearing deposit left to be mined at a profit; proven producers or patented claims adjoining, nearby or on same lode trend; history and provenance of the claim, etc.

          Beware of scams.  Is the claim properly located and recorded as well as maintained?  Is it properly located as a lode? (You CANNOT get lode rights from a placer claim on an in-place opal bearing deposit!!!).  Is someone claiming an old lost tunnel or buried deposit with enough opal they can open a fee dig and retire?  Why haven't they? Are they claiming this but only showing opals from  other  fee dig mines?  Why would they go to pay and dig opal at another mine but not expose the so-called extremely rich buried deposit on  their own mine?  If you look hard enough you will see who the scammer is.  One individual in the Denio/Virgin Valley area (who sells illegal mining tours, digs and showings, as well as guiding on blm lands without a federal permit or insurance) hates us for exposing the truth and his scams at making money off you illegally.  If it sounds "FISHY" it probably is.  With the  exception of the patented fee digs in Virgin Valley (Rainbow Ridge, Royal Peacock, Bonanza Mines) IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANYONE TO CHARGE YOU A FEE ON BLM / USFWS lands without a permit and insurance!!!  ASK TO SEE THE PERMIT AND INSURANCE OF ANYONE DOING THIS!  Nobody should charge a "fee" to show you, or to test dig a claim, or to "answer your questions" about a claim you are interested in buying.  Thats BS!.  If you are going to spend your hard-earned money, anyone selling a claim should SHOW AND PROVE IT TO YOU at no charge, and then you can decide to buy or not to buy at that point.   A $200.- per day fee to "answer questions" or give you a "tour" or "claims showing" is unreasonable to cover the simple expenses of gas and time, not to mention the fact that in such a scenario you are simply paying to see something you're already interested in buying.  When you go into a store, do you pay to look at something before you buy it, and then pay for the item too?  That's highly unreasonable and unethical.   Paying someone for a meal and a quarter tank of gas to go there and back might be reasonable, but $200.- is NOT reasonable.  It's also AGAINST THE LAW to charge a fee on federal public lands, so you'd be paying someone to take advantage of you and make money off you illegally.  I shouldn't have to say this but this activity really rubs me the wrong way, especially when the main person doing it has been digging on and stealing from my father's claims!  Yes, this means you JOHN CHURCH dba SWORDFISH MINING! (CLICK HERE FOR THE PROOF!).    First and most importantly.....there is only one reason a citizen can stake and hold a mining claim and that is for mining purposes only!   No matter how it's laid out, charging a fee to dig or be present for lessons etc., of any kind on a mining claim clearly is not a valid mining activity.  Mining is a profit business venture to extract something from the earth.... not other people!  Claims have been invalidated/voided for charging a fee to dig or prospect, and this has been upheld by the IBLA.  Charging a fee to collect minerals is NOT A LEGITIMATE USE OF A MINING CLAIM!!!  Therefore, its UNAUTHORIZED USE.
 WE CAN SHOW YOU ANY CLAIM WE OFFER, DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS, AT NO COST TO YOU except what you pay for your travel/etc out here.  We won't charge you one penny to show you a claim that we advertise for sale if you are interested.  We won't charge you a fee to answer your questions either.  Period.  

          If you're serious about getting an opal mining claim in Virgin Valley, we offer the highest grade of claims available.  We have a few opal mining claims for sale in Nevada's Virgin Valley that we are showing on consignment.   These are precious opal gemstone claims and they are properly located as lodes for the in-place opal-bearing deposit.   All claims were properly researched, located and staked, recorded and maintained in accordance with all state and federal laws.  All claims have dirt road access onto them and to the diggings.   CLICK HERE TO SEE OPAL MINING CLAIMS FOR SALE IN VIRGIN VALLEY.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<       Please don't forget to follow and LIKE us on Facebook.... Thanks!


Home of the world-famousVirgin Valley Black Fire Opal & source of the world's finest Opal Specimens and opal collector gems.
 Several mines are open to rockhounds for fee digging of  precious black, crystal, fire, and other opal types. Opal Gem Mines & Mining Claims for sale.  Links to the Royal Peacock, Rainbow Ridge and Bonanza Opal Mines Fee Digs with information on the Virgin Valley Opal and Mines.  DOMINION OPAL MINES  is a private group of claims and mines which is not open to the public but we provide info on the public opal mines and fee digs.  There are opal mines and mining claims for sale in Virgin Valley, Nevada.

Dominion Opal Mines of Virgin Valley Nevada