Panning for Gold Today: Where to Go & How to Succeed

You can find gold in almost any US state. Most places, however, just have trace elements. If you want to make money panning for gold today, you have to know where to go and what method to use.

Gold Creek, Alaska

Gold Creek

Image via Flickr by Natecull

The appropriately named Gold Creek runs through several towns near Juneau, Alaska. If you can stand the long hike, Last Chance Basin also has a reputation as a great place to pan for gold. Few people strike it rich at these locations, but rumor has it that someone found a 3/4 ounce nugget there recently.

You’ll need the standard panning equipment:

  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Sieve
  • Small spade
  • Waterproof boots (it gets cold in Alaska!)

You’ll also need dedication. Panning is hard work that requires physical and mental strength. If you get discouraged easily, then you’ve already failed.

Finger Lakes, New York

Gold Finger Lakes

Image via Flickr by Todd Huffman

Gold prospectors have said for years that there isn’t anything worth finding in New York State. It turns out that the old-timers just didn’t have the right technology to get the gold.

If you want to find gold in New York, head to a basin in the Finger Lakes region and start looking in small cracks between rocks. How? You just need some suction.

Before heading out in search of gold, make sure you have a power sluice. It’s essentially a strong water pump attached to a mechanical sieve. Put your hose deep in those cracks to suck out hidden gold.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Gold in Charlotte

Image via Flickr by avlxyz

Everyone remembers the California Gold Rush, but history seems to have forgotten about an earlier rush that took place east of Charlotte, North Carolina. Reed’s Gold Mine, as it’s known today, has recently started to attract new treasure hunters willing to wade through the Little Meadow Creek and other nearby waterways.

Don’t expect to find anything like the 17-pound gold rock that started the Gold Rush in 1799 or the 28-pound found by a slave in 1803. Many members of the local Gold Prospectors Association of America chapter haven’t found so much as an ounce.

Still, there’s a lot of potential in the area. John Reed eventually turned to underground mining, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find gold in the water.

American River, California

California Gold

Image via Flickr by Joe Mabel

California banned suction dredging in 2010, so you can’t use the same methods that have made a handful of New York prospectors rich.

Several locations, including American River, however, still let you use panning and metal detector methods to find gold. To make the most of your time, it’s best to use a combination of the methods.

What you’ll need:

  • A metal detector to find large deposits
  • Standard panning equipment
  • Luck

Using a metal detector can increase your chances of finding higher concentrations of gold in the silt, but metal detectors will also tell you start working whenever they find metal trash. That’s why you need luck as well as science to find gold in California rivers.

Do you have any secret spots where you hunt for gold, or have you found that it’s best to where others have already struck it rich?

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