Bitten By The Gold Fever Bug? Then The Head To The Hills To Discover Exciting Gold Panning Places To Go

California’s Gold Country has many numerous gold panning places to go for recreational panning for gold.

Recreational gold panning is an exciting, popular hobby in California and is enjoyed by the locals and visitors, alike.

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at panning for gold, but never have?

Well there are a few things you might want to know before setting out on your trip. Like...

  1. What tools do you need to take with you
  2. Where do you go looking for gold
  3. And oh yea... if you're lucky enough to find some of that shiny stuff... how do you know it's real gold and not fool's gold

Even beginners - like us - can give it a try if we're shown what to do.

What tools do you need? Here's some basic gold panning equipment suggestions...

  1. Small bottle - Almost any small bottle will do so long as it closes tightly and is water tight.
  2. Crevice or sniping tools - Paint brushes, slotted screwdriver, tablespoon, garden trowel or some kind of crevice tool. These tools help clean out the crevasses to get out all the good material. Remember gold is very dense and will settle to the bottom to the cracks and crevices.
  3. Shovel, pick and trowel - a mini pick shovel combo is a good choice and relatively inexpensive.
  4. Utility bucket - a 5-gallon bucket is super hand for carrying and organizing your tools. Plus it's good to use to haul any materials you're going to pan.
  5. Gold pan - a lightweight plastic like a 10.5 inch black or 12 inch green are good choices.

If we want to go looking for some gold and have fun doing it... gold panning provides many happy hours of outdoor activity for the entire family.

But where do we start?

More than 80% of the gold in the Mother Lode is still yet to be found, this makes gold panning even more exciting!

gold panning in the river

Gold panning places are found in areas where...

...lode deposits and erosion have occurred. Look for gold nuggets in streams, rivers, ravines, lake areas and dry ravines.

Such as... finding a stream or creek where gold has been discovered before. That's important when you're panning for gold!

Make sure your spot is on public land where recreational prospecting is allowed, or otherwise you’ll need to get the owner's permission - if the land is privately owned.

When digging... find a spot where the water has slowed down - either from a gravel bar, tree roots in the stream and so on.

That's where the gold drops to the bottom because of its weight.

Other places to pan for gold is around and behind large rocks, or downstream of a fast-moving rapids where the water has slowed back down.

Here’s just a few of the local rivers to explore...

  • The American River
  • Bear River
  • Yuba River
  • Deer Creek
  • Wolf Creek
  • Bridgeport
  • Colfax
  • Foresthill
  • Oxbow Reservoir
  • Yankee Jim's, on the Foresthill Divide
  • Washington (20 miles NE of Nevada City)
  • Golden Quartz Picnic Area, and
  • Kelecher Picnic Area

Folks who live in California's gold country claim that 80% of the gold is still in the ground. There's even talk of some mines that have been closed for quite a while... are reopening.

Some locations are private claims, mines or restricted use areas. So please read signs carefully.

And let's have some fun!

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Panning for gold