Where to Find Gold in Rivers, Creeks & Streams: Prospecting, Panning
Amateur gold prospectors dream of finding the perfect creek, stream or river where placer gold can be easily removed by panning. But do you know why gold flakes, nuggets and dust can be found deposited in streams in the first place? It has to do with two things: the weathering of gold deposits from rock over time, and the fact that gold is heavier than most other materials that you might find in a creak bed.
Lode gold can be found in rock deposits all over the world, although it’s much more prevalent in some geographic areas than others. While it’s possible to mine lode gold deposits directly from the rock, these type of commercial mining operations often cost millions and are out of reach of the average amateur gold prospector. Instead, recreational gold panning enthusiasts are interested in where to find gold in rivers, creeks and streams in what are called “placer” deposits.
Placer deposits are created when gold is weathered out of rock over the aeons and moved by flowing creek water. These small particles and nuggets of gold are slowly transported down a creek or stream, and accumulate in the sand in banks, along the shore, and in rock crevices. This type of placer gold isn’t usually visible just by observing the sediment and material in a creek bed. Instead, it needs to be panned out of the gravel and dirt using a simple–but often time-consuming–process.
If you’re a recreational gold prospector who is wondering where to find gold in rivers, creeks and streams in your state, a little bit of research ahead of time will make your job easier. Contrary to popular belief, place gold can be found in almost every state in the USA . . . although some states have a lot more than others. But the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re hunting for gold is that you should always concentrate your efforts in places where it has been found before.
Join a local gold panning group or club (yes, there probably are a few in your state) and talk with members about creeks, rivers and streams in your area where gold has been prospected in the past. If you want to do some additional work and make it more likely for you to find gold, you can also check out government maps and records to discover where gold has been found in your state and in what amounts.
Pulling placer gold flakes and nuggets out of streams and rivers probably won’t make you enough money to quit your day job, but it can be a fun hobby to start. Getting out into the wilderness and exploring local creeks should be a rewarding pastime regardless if you’re finding gold or not.