I've been getting a lot of questions emailed to me recently asking where someone might find good places to gold pan. While there are too many places and too many answers for me to possible know that, I thought I'd write up another article to help people get on the right track.
Often times the best sources for finding hidden gems (that is to say, great gold panning locations) is somewhere very obvious that most people don’t think to look. Visiting a local library and finding any and all information about where the gold WAS will tell you where the gold IS. History books are a fantastic place to learn where the best places to pan for gold are. Even if a book leads you to an area that’s been picked over by a fine tooth comb 100 times over, you’re still on the right track. Do NOT underestimate the value of known placer deposits.
Commonly known gold panning locations are not hard to come by, what is hard to come by is access to these places. Because more and more people are becoming wise to the fact that places that used to have gold, still have it, a lot of known gold panning spots are claimed already. You’ve got two options in such a case. You can ask permission to help out the owner on his claim or you can snipe the claim out when renewal time comes knocking. This is especially true for inactive claims that are known to still be gold bearing. Often times a claim owner will just sit on the claim and if he isn’t diligent about renewing it, there’s a small window where other prospectors can snatch up someone else’s claim!
Finally, if you’re still out of ideas… Don’t hesitate to ask around. Keep asking until you find someone or a group of people that know a lot more than you. I’ve found that a lot of old time prospectors absolutely love to share their stories and methods with people. In a lot of cases they can even use a hand on their own claim or welcome some extra company on casual outings. Don’t be surprised if they are not always eager to point the way to their claim though. Claim jumpers can be bad news for any claim owner as they can do a lot of environmental damage which the owner might be on the hook for.
Some suggested gold pan reading: Anything by Garnet Basque (Gold Panner's Manual and Methods of Placer Mining) Some of the BEST books are the oldest. If you can find used ones on amazon for cheap, pick them up, they're worth it just for the history lesson and authenticity.