There’s still gold in them thar hills. A 27.5 ounce gold nugget was found north of town in 1989, and flakes of gold shimmer in the stream bottoms. You can pan on public land or with permission of local landowners.
It’s an easy day trip from Melrose to Crystal Park, a public mining claim where you just might dig up a 6″ purple quartz crystal. Other mineral treasures to be found in the area include smoky quartz, amethyst, agates and sapphire.
If you’re not inclined to active digging, you can still enjoy the Mineral Museum on the Montana Tech campus in Butte. Over 1500 specimens are on display including that 27.5 ounce nugget. There’s a spectacular mineral collection next door to campus at Hell Roarin’ Gulch, where you’ll also see the World Museum of Mining.