Where to Find Gold in Oregon: Gold Panning Locations in Oregon

where to find gold in oregon

These beautiful, valuable gold nuggets were found in Oregon.

Oregon was one of the original states where early gold prospectors came for panning and mining operations way back in the middle of the 19th Century.  Today, amateur prospectors still flock to the state in order to find out where to find gold in Oregon, and plenty of gold nuggets, flakes and dust are found there every year.  Whether you’re a recreational gold panning or metal detecting enthusiast, or a serious gold miner who wants to hit the mother load, Oregon is a great place to look for gold.  The state is loaded with creeks, rivers and streams that are heavy in placer gold and places to look for gold nuggets.  In fact, it’s legal for recreational gold prospectors to conduct gold panning operations on government-owned land across the state.  The U.S. Forst Service and the Land Management Bureau allow recreational panning for gold on almost all of their public lands located in Oregon.

As in other states, the best places to find gold in Oregon are locations where it has been found by other prospectors in the past.  The Western Cascades area, northeast and southwest Oregon are richest in streams, creeks and rivers where gold has been found before.

You can get a list of public lands where you are allowed to pan for gold in Oregon by contacting the Bureau of Land Management or the United States Forest Service.  Some of the most popular public lands for gold prospecting are Burnt River and Powder River in northeast Oregon; Quartzville Creek (which is located close to Sweet Home, a town in the central part of the state); and the southern Oregon areas of Rogue River, Cow Creek, Gold Nugget, Tunnel Ridge and Little Applegate.

If you want to take your gold prospecting experience a step further in Oregon, you can ask local county government offices for maps that show federally-owned mining claims that are available (these federal gold mining claims in Oregon are overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.

One unique rule that gold panning and prospecting hobbyists in Oregon must follow involves salmon.  As a gold panner, you are not allowed to mine for gold if salmon are spawning in a particular river or creek, or if there are any nests of salmon eggs (salmon reds).  You also can’t camp in any single location for more than two weeks at a time.

To learn more about where to find gold in Oregon, you should contact one of the many gold prospecting and mining organizations that are in operation across the state.  Among the most prominent gold prospecting associations are the Eastern Oregon Mining Association, the Waldo Mining District, the Willamette Valley Miners, and the Portland Chapter of the Gold Prospectors Association of America.