The Getaway
Get a Taste of the 1849 Gold Rush and Get Rich!

Looking for that tingle of excitement you get when you've discovered something valuable? That feeling is waiting for you when you pan for gold.

Gold panning is alive and well in the 21st century throughout the US, and nothing beats the thrill of sifting through sand and finding pure gold. The best part? It's easy to do. All you need is a shovel, a pan, and a sense of adventure.

You've got many areas to choose from for your golden trip. Get started on your own gold rush!


01 The gold rush started and is still going right here.

You can start your own personal gold rush at the place where it all began in 1848. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is named for James Marshall, the prospector who discovered gold in the American River.

You'll see the monument to Marshall, erected on the exact spot where he first struck it rich. Then, you can head to the Mt. Murphy bridge and pan for your treasure. There's a shop nearby with everything you need for panning.

You'll find plenty of other places to pan in California's Gold Country in the town of Coloma and the American River.

02 Deadwood is ground zero for the Black Hills Gold Rush

Make Deadwood your base in the Black Hills. General George Armstrong Custer discovered gold here in 1874 on French Creek, setting off the gold rush which created Deadwood.

Today you can find gold throughout the Black Hills. Most of the land there is government-owned and open to panning. But be sure to get a map at the Black Hills National Forest visitor's center because there's privately-owned land adjacent to the National Forest that's off-limits.

You'll be searching for gold where a lot of Old West history happened, and you'll be able to see Mt. Rushmore, too!

03 This Nevada town offers a different type of prospecting

Rye Patch, Nevada is the place to go if you want to prospect for gold but not get wet. Rye Patch State Recreation Area is where you can strike it rich using a metal detector less than two hours northeast of Reno.

There's not much water near Rye Patch, which is why prospectors use metal detectors. The gold here is close to the surface and is easily found.

04 Pan in the "richest square mile on earth"

Clear Creek Canyon Park in Colorado has a rich gold history. Colorado's gold rush of 1859 began when nuggets were found at the confluence of Clear Creek and Chicago Creek. The rich ores discovered here led to the area's nickname.

Today, you can still find gold in Clear Creek, even though it has been mined for the past 150 years.

Clear Creek Canyon Park is a short drive west of Denver, minutes from the metro area.

05 Head north to experience the Klondike gold rush

Alaska's gold rush of 1897-98 led thousands of prospectors to Crow Creek, which would become the largest gold mine in the state. Here you'll be able to pan in the midst of rich Alaskan history.

Crow Creek Gold Mine is still active and you'll be panning alongside experienced prospectors. Don't be afraid to watch them work to learn a few techniques.

Crow Creek is in Anchorage. It offers tours of the original Mining Camp, the oldest buildings in Anchorage, and gold panning lessons if you don't feel like chatting it up with strangers.

06 There's gold in Central California, too

American river at fall at South Fork near Lotus, CA

The American River is known to have more gold than any river in the US. The south fork of the American River flows through Jamestown, California, 60 miles east of Stockton.

Gold panners have been finding treasure in Jamestown since 1849, using nothing more than a shovel and pan. That's all you'll need to become one of the thousands who've tried to strike it rich in California.


07 Perfect if you want to camp where you pan

The Cosumnes River in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California offers great camping as well as gold panning. The river runs through the Eldorado National Forest.

One of the best locations on the Cosumnes is the Pi-Pi (pie-pie) Campground in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Because it's a campground, there's a lot of panning going on in a concentrated area.

The key is to head upstream away from crowds. You'll have a great hike and might even come back wealthy!

08 Panning in Gold City and North Georgia

Gold City is the nickname for Dahlonega, Georgia, and the Crisson gold mine is the place to go for instruction about how to find gold in North Georgia's rivers.

Most rivers in the area have gold, including the Chattahoochee, Chestatee, Etowah, and Nachoochee Rivers. You'll need to make sure you're on public land when you head out on your own.

09 America's first gold rush kicked off here

When John Reed found some big yellow rocks on his Midland, North Carolina, farm, he didn't know they were gold. He figured it out in a hurry and began mining operations in 1803 at the Reed Gold Mine.

Here you can pan for gold at the Reed mine under the watchful eyes of experienced panners.

10 Hellgate Recreational Area in Southern Oregon

Hellgate is located along the Rogue River and offers wide-open gold panning opportunities in a beautiful area. There's excellent camping here, as well.

Gold production in Southern Oregon is abundant, so you've got a good chance of finding gold nuggets along with gold flakes.


Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.