You may have wondered, where can you find gold? Well finding gold is easier than you might think. It will take some time and effort but if you are intent on finding some there is still gold out there. Gold is found in nearly every state in the USA concentrated mostly in the following; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. We have prospected gold for hundreds of years and there are several ways of doing so.
Most gold today is mined out of gold bearing ore. Huge chunks of rocks blasted and drilled out of the earth for the small amounts of gold that are contained within. Commercial mining companies will have to process roughly one ton of gold bearing ore only to recover a few grams.
For us part-time or small scale prospectors gold bearing ore is not feasible for us to process. So we are after another type called “Placer Gold”. Placer gold comes from gold sediments left in high consecrations thousands of years ago. Over time these concentrations of gold were chipped and washed away by weather, spreading the gold out. Rivers and flash floods brought this gold out of the mountains. Most casual prospecting is done by and in rivers and most simply require just a pan. Remember that gold is 19 times heavier than water and 6 times heavier than rock.
Rivers and steams could only push this heavy gold so far before depositing it. Mostly on the inner bends of rivers or washes. These areas are the best places to start looking. Check out the Gold Panning How to Guide for more info on panning in rivers for gold. Another popular method for rivers is using a Sluice box. A small box built to catch gold as gold bearing material is ran through it.
Another good tip is too keep an eye out for bedrock or false river beds. Since gold is so heavy most of it sinks below the dirt until it rests on a hard rock. Keep this is mind when looking for areas to scoop out dirt. Dredging is effective for this reason. Dredging is when you scrape or suck soil from the bottom of a river or lake-bed. Usually these areas can contain gold particles.
So what if you don’t live by any rivers? You can still prospect gold without water. Here in Nevada you will have a hard time finding a river. There are many methods of desert or waterless prospecting. Using a Metal Detector is a popular method for searching for gold nuggets. Often called “nugget shooting” this method is effective for finding nuggets down to the size of a pin head. Useful to do in areas that do not have a constant water supply.
In Nevada most gold is very fine sometimes called flour gold. This gold is too small for a Metal Detector and must be recovered a different way. Dry washing is a popular method that uses Air to separate lighter particles from the gold.
Remember do your research before poking around for gold. The most effective way is to choose a county you will be prospecting in and then contact the local BLM office to get updated information on the areas you wish to prospect. Prospecting is limited or sometimes not allowed in State Parks and it is a crime to mine on another person’s claim. Private property is off limits unless you receive permission from the owner. Ideally you are looking for BLM land that is open and has no active claims.
Good Luck and remember,
“Gold is where you can find it!”
Check out this cool video on the Gold Rush.