I had a few minutes the other day and happened to catch the commercial for one of those new shows on tv. You probably know the one I am talking about. It is where they search for gold under water.
Well that got me thinking. I have often wondered if you could still go panning for gold somewhere and “strike it rich”. Wouldn’t that be a great campfire tale?
So off to the trusty interwebs I go. Guess what. There actually are places that you can go and pan for gold. Woo Hoo! I can be just like the 49er’s (the ones that actually looked for gold not the football team) find gold and be rich.
Dollar signs flashed in eyes as I started making my plans for dominating the gold mining industry. Gleaming piles of gold bars appeared in my dreams. I had “gold fever”.
This is where reality ( my lovely wife) stepped in and said…”Hold on buster, just how much gold do you think you are going to find at some these places? They are tourist destinations”. My golden dreams deflated faster than a balloon that was stuck by a pin.
Now of course she is right and how much gold you could actually find I don’t know as most of these places are more for fun than anything else. But still, it certainly might be a kick to give it a try if for no other reason than to have a good story.
Seven Places To Try Panning For Gold
Yes, there actually are places in the U.S. but finding them and doing your panning legally might be a different story for another day. The places on this list will let you pan for gold legally.
There is a charge to pan at all of the places, but it is fairly reasonable considering how much it costs to go to an average amusement park for a day.
For the same amount of money, you get to do something different, you are outside in the fresh air and you will have a great story to tell later. And if you just happen to actually find gold and strike it rich, don’t forget that I told you about this.
1. The Reed Gold Mine Midland North Carolina
The mine that started it all. Back in 1799 Conrad Reed took a walk along the Little Meadow creek. He happened to look down and see something shiny in the water. It turned out to be a 17 pound “nugget”. Talk about a lucky day, that’s better than a lottery ticket!
According to their website, the Reed Gold mine is open year round Tuesdays thru Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. Panning though, is only allowed from April 1st to October 31st. Admission is free, but panning costs $2 per pan.
2. Big Thunder Gold Mine Keystone South Dakota
The Big Thunder Gold Mine originally started off life as the Gold Hill Lode back in 1882. The mine was started by two German immigrants Krupp and Engle. Their idea was to intersect a vein of gold that was known to exist on the mining claim nearby, the Lucky Boy Claim.
While they did intersect the same vein of gold as the one that was on the Lucky Boy site, at that point it was so small that it was hardly worth the effort and the operation was shut down.
Two years later, another mining operation, the Columbia on the opposite side of the hill from the Big Thunder started producing large amounts of gold. Once again the Big Thunder was opened in the hopes of hitting the vein that flowed through the Columbia. At about this time, the First World War took place which effectively shut down all mining in the area.
But the Big Thunder mine is still there and open for business. They do offer gold panning tours. The rates for adults $9.25 ($7.25 if you take the mine tour package). Kids (ages 6-12) can try their hand at panning for $6.25. Kids under 6 are free.
3. Jamestown Gold Panning Jamestown California
If learning about the 1849 gold rush and reliving a bit of the past sounds good then, Jamestown is the place for you. Here you not only can pan for gold where it was actually discovered by a party of miners led by Benjamin Woods, you can get a history lesson of the area as well.
The instructors have a combined 80 plus years of experience in gold prospecting and will answer your questions about gold panning. They are open Monday thru Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm Pacific. But if you go in the slow season be aware that they might be out panning for gold themselves!
4. Consolidated Gold Mines Dahlonega Georgia
Now this one I never would have thought of. Georgia and gold panning? Other states yes, but Georgia brings to mind peaches and southern living, not gold mining.
But at Consolidated Gold Mines you can actually pan for gold as well as precious gem stones. Talk about doubling your chances!
Gold was actually discovered here in North Georgia twenty years before the California gold rush. And just like there, the first miners were the lucky ones as they could literally pick up gold from off the ground by hand.
It wasn’t long before the easy pickings were gone and panning for gold in the local streams and rivers was the way to find your fortune. At Consolidated Gold Mines you can still pan for gold just like the miners did in the 1820′s.
Consolidated is open Monday thru Friday from 10 am to 4 pm Eastern. Saturdays abd Sundays they are open from 10 am to 5 pm Eastern. The prices vary for panning. If you take the mine tour, you can try your hand with a free sampler pan. Or you can take the plunge panning the Grade A material for $6 or the Grade AA material for $11.
5. Crow Creek Gold Mine Girdwood, Alaska
It may be a bit of a drive, but the gold mining action at Crow Creek may just be the best that you can find on this list of places to pan for gold.
Crow Creek has produced over 45,000 ( yes that is thousands) ounces of gold. Nuggets of 1/4 inch are quite common at this site. The “regulars” often find nuggets that weigh an ounce or more. The best part is that the Bureau of Mines estimates that there may be as much as one million yards of un-mined material left!
Crow Creek is family owned and operated. Gold panning is on a pay per visit basis. Kids 7 and under are $10.00, seniors, active military and GPAA members are $15.00, everyone else is $20.00. Fair enough considering how much gold is there to find. You may easily make back your initial entrance fee with one pan.
6. Alabama Gold Camp Lineville Alabama
This is another one that kind of surprises me. I never knew there was gold in Alabama. But it does make sense since there is gold right next door in Georgia.
Aside from gold panning at Alabama Gold Camp, there is camping both primitive and full hook up. Camp 6 nights and get the seventh for free!
Visitor passes cost $5.00 per day, children under 11 are free with an adult. The visitor pass according to the website includes admission, panning, sluicing and metal detecting.
There are options if you want to go big. You can try your hand at dredging, the costs range between $15 and $60 per day. Or you can try high banking from $15 to $25 per day. With these two options, you may have a better chance at finding more gold.
7. Goldstrike Colorado Gold Experience
Goldstrike was created by a father and son prospecting team. Their idea was to bring to life what gold prospecting was like in Colorado in the 1800′s.
Unlike other services, with Goldstrike you will get a real hands on experience of how to pan for gold. They actually take you to various historically accurate locations to pan for gold that is-still to this day-there for the taking.
The prices are higher, but you also get much more attention from the hosts. They have half as well as whole day adventures. Also you can arrange to be taken to their “secret tested” location higher up the mountain where you can use their dredging equipment.
So if you are looking for something different to do on your next family camping trip, consider going panning for gold. You never know, you may just strike it rich
Panning For Gold