If you have ever had a yearning to go prospecting for gold like the miners in days of yore, fear not, there is still plenty of it to be found. Right here in the good old U.S.A. You may not strike it rich without sophisticated machinery, but more than one person has walked away with a healthy pocket full of change just using basic tools.
You won’t be overrun by money hungry miners with pans in their hands like in the gold rush of 1849. The population of the California territory jumped from 1000 to 100,000 between 1848 and 1849. You’ll more than likely just enjoy a quiet fun-filled time without having to be on the look-out for poachers.
So where is this gold for the taking?
Alaska should come as no surprise to anyone. The semi-popular television show, Alaska Gold Diggers, shows divers in wetsuits placing vacuum hose nozzles in strategic locations as a crew sifts through the sand and rocks pulling out gold nuggets.
Most casual prospectors head straight to the Yukon. Here they can pan in the cool waters, and if they are lucky enough, take an ounce of the precious stuff home with them.
By far though, the Nome Alaska Gold District provides the largest reward. Just don’t go in the winter. Summer temperatures are mild and the landscape is breathtaking.
Yes. Nevada. Wayne Newton’s home state. Bypass Las Vegas. Though gold can be found in every county in the state, the northern portion is where you want to be. It’s almost a sure bet you’re going to find what you came looking for. The best part is, a decent metal detector and a shovel are all you’ll need.
Humboldt County is by far the most popular area. The easiest way to find out exactly where to head once you get there is to ask a local. If they’ve been around the area for any length of time, chances are they’ve been mining more than a time or two or at least knows someone who has.
California is rich with gold, but be careful, certain areas still require a permit to look for it. While a permit is required for large operations at the Forks of Butte Recreation Area, 25-miles NE of Chico, casual, or low-impact mining, does not require one. The area offers a beautiful landscape filled with Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs, and camping is allowed.
Low impact mining is allowed around the Redding area in the northern tier of the state. Popular areas include Butte Creek, Clear Creek, and the Trinity River.
Recreational mining is allowed along a portion of the South Yuba River, but please be aware, the terrain is rough and hard to cross so make plans accordingly. The South Yuba River is only for the avid and experienced enthusiast.
If you live in the East and don’t have the time or resources to travel all the way out West, don’t worry about it. Go to Georgia. Surprised? Don’t be.
Georgia is one of the best states to go prospecting in. Records with the State of Georgia and the Federal Government show Georgia having over 500 gold mines, prospecting, and panning locations.
The nice thing about looking for gold in Georgia is you can find it in virtually every county in the state. As an example, 12 sites are southwest of Atlanta near Newnan, and 26 more are located within easy access off Interstate 20 which runs between Atlanta with Birmingham. There are 26 sites within a mere 35 miles of Augusta, and 16 sites near the North Carolina border. There are also mining sites near both the Alabama and South Carolina state lines.
Wyoming has been largely ignored, possibly due to the harsh winters. But if peace and solitude are what you’re looking for, look no further. To anyone’s knowledge, Wyoming does not hold the vast amounts of gold as some other states, but this may be attributed to never being as actively mined as they have been.
Significant amounts of gold have been taken from the southern end of the Wind River Range as well as the Lewiston, Twin Creek, and Oregon Buttes districts.
In Central Wyoming, the Granite Mountain Range, the Tin Cup, Rattlesnake Hills, and the Seminoe Districts have produced a low grade of gold ore, but many recreational miners feel the potential for finding a better grade is there.
Panning in the Absaroka Mountains has produced good results for enthusiasts. The range is located in the Northwestern part of the state. Because commercial dredgers have more or less left this area of Wyoming alone, part-timers are fairly assured of coming away happy.
Other states of interest to anyone wanting to partake of this fun pastime, or those who already do, should be: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
No matter where you live, you can almost smell the gold from where you are. If you really want to pinpoint a spot where the grade of ore is extra special and the take-home results have proven lucrative for others who have gone before, search the government geographical maps before selecting your final destination. They’ll tell you everything you want to know.
Much of your destination choice should be based on priorities. Do you want to add a little jingle to your bank account, relax, or perhaps do both? Another consideration is if you will be traveling solo or sojourning with your family. Make certain wherever you select has easy access for everyone in your party.
Happy prospecting! It’s out there. Now go and find it.