Royal Peacock Opal Mines

Useful Information

Location: 10 Virgin Valley Rd, Denio, NV 89404.
(41.78602889558286, -119.10024313229533)
Open: 15-MAY to 15-OCT daily 8-16, weather permitting.
Fee: Bank Digging USD 190, Tailings USD 75.
Classification: MineOpal Mine MineFee Mining
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Royal Peacock Opal Mines, 10 Virgin Valley Rd, Denio, NV 89404, Tel: +1-775-941-0374. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1905 first underground workings of in the area.
1912 Royal Peacock mine opened.
1944 Harry L. Wilson buys Royal Peacock mine.
1981 fee mine opened to the public.



Royal Peacock Opal Mines is a sort of quarry, a hillside with rocks containing veins of opal. The fee mine allows visitors to dig for opals and keep them. There is no underground mine and no guided tour. The site has a gift show and an RV park.

The opals were discovered by cowboys and sheepherders in the late 19th century. The rocks which unique colours were black and fire opals. Collectors travelled to Cedarville and other communities in Surprise Valley on weekends, and traded the minerals for shots of whiskey. But finally some locals learned about opals and started to mine for them in 1905, even underground. Royal Peacock mine was opened in 1912. Virgin Valley has several commercial operations and more than 200 private claims. During a century of mining millions of dollars of opals have been found.

Harry L. Wilson was a cowboy who worked for Miller & Lux for 25 years, but when the company went corrupt in 1925 he partnered with two other jobless cowboys, Dave Beebe and Billy McClusky. The bought land and founded Virgin Valley Ranch. Royal Peacock mine was located across the valley, and when it was for sale in 1944, Harry L. Wilson was convinced by his wife to buy it. But he was a cowboy and was not interested in mining.

His son Harry W. Wilson finally changed this, more or less because he was forced to sell the ranch. The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1931, and it grew until it finally surrounded the farm. As cattle was not allowed in the refuge, the farm became unprofitable. Finally, they sold the farm which also became a huge part of the refuge. They used the money to buy the historic Andorno Ranch near Winnemucca, Nevada. And also they mined opal at Royal Peacock mine and opened the fee mine in 1981. In 1987, Harry and Joy Wilson took some specimens from their mine to Paul Iverson, Deputy Director of the Nevada Division of Minerals. Virgin Valley black fire opal becam the “state precious gemstone.” Today the mining has replaced ranching as their livelihood and the mine is family run in the fifth generation.