Hi! I’m Kyle, the Penny Hoarder.

I've got some creative ways to fix your budget.

As seen on…
7 Places Where You Can Still Pan for Gold
Panning for Gold

by - August 13, 2013 - 24 Comments

Define the perfect family vacation.

Could it be soaking in scenic landscapes from America’s streams and rivers? Maybe it’s learning about an historic piece of the American experience? Certainly, striking it rich and pulling out a 17 pound chunk of gold worth millions would be an enticing bonus!

For centuries Americans have taken to rivers and streams in search of the ultimate riches and at many historic claims, you still can.

Here are 7 places in America that will let you pan for gold…

Reed Gold Mine, NC

The Reed Gold Mine is the place that started it all.

In 1799, Conrad Reed was walking along Little Meadow Creek when he noticed a shiny, gold substance gleaming in the water. That glint was found to be a 17-pound gold nugget. The event is documented as the first authentic gold claim in the US and you can still pull gold out of the water to this day.

The Reed Gold Mine is about twenty miles outside of Charlotte, NC. The site offers free admission and tours of the gold mines. Panning is only $2 per person, pan included.

Big Thunder Gold Mine, SD

Mount Rushmore, Black Hills Forest and gold panning; these are the things worth doing while in South Dakota.

In 1876, the gold rush swept across the Black Hills of South Dakota after deposits were found in Deadwood Creek. People have been panning for gold ever since. Much of the Black Hills are encompassed by public land and panning is available to whoever feels like wading through the waters.

Costs depend on where you plan on panning. A trip to Custer State Park is $15 per vehicle. You will need to rent or bring your own panning equipment.

Jamestown, CA

The problem with gold panning in California is deciding on where to pan for gold in California. The state is rich with gold mining history and remarkable finds. Although Sutter’s claim is the more well known, consider heading south to Jamestown, CA.

The town isn’t far from Yosemite National Park. Plus, there are numerous panning tours available. Jamestown Gold Panning offers access to 5 different claims, equipment and instruction. Pricing will vary on your needs. You can go on a 5 hour excursion for $25 or $50 if you want access to rental equipment. For the amateur family, you can get instruction, equipment and a 5 hour excursion for $160.

Dahlonega, GA

Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase “Thar’s Gold in Them Thar Hills.” It comes from a famous advertisement for gold mining in Georgia.

The Appalachian region of North Georgia was the site of an American gold rush in 1928. Although people have been hunting for gold on the land for nearly 200 hundred years, places like the Consolidated Gold Mine offer you a fair shot at finding your own fortune. Costs vary from $6 to $11 per pan.

Crow Creek, AK

If you are in Alaska and want to look for more than incredible scenery and wildlife, you might want to try your hand at panning for gold.

Crow Creek Gold Mine was recently featured on the show “America’s Toughest Jobs.” If you want to really go all out, you can go for a weekend mining excursion complete with tents and lanterns. If you’re just looking to pan the creek, however, children seven and under are $10, seniors are $15 and everyone else is $20 per day. Can’t make it all the way to the creek? They have a panning shed close by so you can experience the fun without the walk.

Alabama Gold Camp, AL

Perhaps gold alone isn’t enough for you. If you’re looking to add the possibility of finding garnet, citrine or fossils into the mix, you should head to the Alabama Gold Camp.

For a mere $5 per person, you can get admission with panning and sluicing included. Children 11 and under are free with an adult. Camping is also available, for only $5/day for “primitive” camping or $30/day for RV hookups. You may bring your own equipment, with costs varying from $15-$60, depending on the size of your dredge (6-inch maximum).

Colorado Gold Adventures, CO

Colorado is about so much more than just skiing. Why not add the chance to find something valuable?

Colorado Gold Adventures plans a guided field trip for you with all the trimmings, and practically guarantees that you’ll make a little find. You can choose one of several beautiful, historic locations for your excursion and keep what you find. These guided tours run $100/day for an adult ($75/half day) and $50 for children up to age 14. Trips are available year round.

Americans have been searching for gold for centuries. Now you and your family can be part of the history. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get rich doing it, too.

Good luck Penny Hoarders!

From the Web


  • http://www.personalfinancewhiz.com Jeremy @ Personal Finance Whiz

    I’ve always thought that panning for gold would be a lot of fun. Though, in reality it’s probably one of those things that is fun for a little while but gets old quickly.

    I can’t imagine that there is much of a chance that you would find anything in these places that are targeted towards tourists. Maybe if you could find somewhere off the beaten path you would stand a chance?

    • http://yahoo Anne Bennett

      I agree with Jeremy and in about 1950 bought a paper back on places to pan or look for gold. And I would not work at it. I would just idle along a stream poking with a stick – maybe take along a kitchen strainer – a tea strainer? sitdown relax and let little chunks of the yellow stuff come to me.

  • http://www.20sfinances.com 20’s Finances

    I have to agree with Jeremy. I am sure it would get old quickly. Still interesting that there are places you can do it still.

  • http://startinvestingmoney.com Tushar@EverythingFinance

    I’m very skeptical about panning for gold. Do people really find any gold ?

    • Alexis

      Be at the right place, at the right time and you will have this unique and lovely smile all over your face…

    • Sinder

      Yes. There is still people mining for gold.
      Theres still Gold miners and Companies in the world.

      about 10 ounces of gold are worth 40,000$

  • http://www.sterlingeffort.com Ash @ Sterling Effort

    I’d love to go panning for gold! I imagine it’s massively unprofitable but it would just be so cool to find your own gold. Thanks! This is now officially on my list of stuff to do in my lifetime :)

    • Steve

      It’s a blast! I’ve never panned for gold in my life. Got some local info and found color on my 1st trip here in Georgia. No, you won’t get rich, but it is fun to swirl the black sand and see those little specks peeking out at you!

      • The Penny Hoarder

        That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing that…


  • Rick

    Interestingly, since they named a place in AL for garnets and fossils, someone needs to mention Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas. You pay your admission fee, rent equipment, and search an extinct volcano caldera for diamonds using screens, hammers, etc. There are also crystal mining operations 30-40 miles up the road, where you can collect your own quartz crystals – a 5 gallon bucket full for $10, if I remember correctly. Fun family vacations!

  • Rick

    Hi – me and some friends, 10 or so, would like to plan a gold panning trip. We all live in Toronto. Do you offer trips to northern Ontario or just BC?

  • Dave

    I personally took at trip out with Don and his son (see Colorado Gold Adventures above) Last summer. I highly recommend them, great people great time. A great way to get out into the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Took an entire weekend trip with them and we found gold each day. A word of warning for Southern Lowcountry folk. I live in Orlando, those streams up there are COLD, luckily i brought my own insulated waders. Also, if you go high you can be 7500-8500 feet above sea level. On our hikes, I had to really suck in some air as I was not used to the elevation. Dan and Ryann were very patient with me, those guys traversed those rocky paths like a pair of Rams and got in those streams with SHORTS on.
    We didnt need any ice for the drinks either, just put a couple of cans in a mesh bag and leave it in the stream shallows. Go for the gold!!!!

  • Will

    I have a cousin from Newfoundland Canada & he traveled to Alberta Canada to find Gold. He said he always found enough to live on but nothing to get excited over. He stated 1 week he may only find $50. and the next $500 but through a month it averaged a very low income. Further he didnt explorer or adventure into areas that were not inhabited. Of course he stayed in safe areas where other hopefuls were panning. He said he had the best time of his life though.

  • http://travelswithmiranda.uskeba.ca Rae

    Dawson City, YK. You can pan at free claim no. 4. Good luck finding anything up there, but it’s still fun to do to get a taste of what the gold rush was like. Finish the day with a sour toe cocktail at the Downtown Hotel and a cancan show at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall.

  • Jamie

    You missed Lake Superior shores of Upper Michigan.

  • http://www.enwealthen.com Jack @ Enwealthen

    Definitely still a lot of gold prospecting in California. Dredging is much more productive than panning – more volume – but can be damaging to the environment so it’s rather controversial.

    That said, there are still many active claims – panning, dredging, and old school rock mining – here in CA, especially in the Yosemite to Tahoe stretch of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

    Great way to spend a day or even a weekend, just don’t expect to break even, let alone make a profit.

  • http://yahoo Anne Bennett

    At 79 I still know where I put the soft cover book on gold I picked up (and paid for) some 50 plus years ago. Just the fun – going slow wouldn’t it be fun?

  • ModernMode

    There are several places in Franklin, NC that cater to tourists. This is the way they work: You buy buckets of dirt. (You can buy seeded buckets for the kids). You pour dirt into a screen and let the water wash it away and then see if you have anything. You more than likely won’t get rich, but you do find stones such as garnets, etc. Once every 10 years or so, someone does find something valuable like a large emerald. It makes for a fun afternoon.

  • Rita Manley King

    Hi John, Please check out the town of Happy Camp, California. If would like to come and stay, as our guest, at the Bigfoot RV and Cabins, you can see, first hand, the panning possibilities. Please visit us and Like on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BigfootRV and http://www.facebook.com/HappyCampCA

    Our telephone number is 530-493-2884

  • akrain001

    If you are serious about gold mining, remember that water in those creeks is c c c c old! I would suggest you wear heavy wool socks along with high rubber boots that have no leaking holes. Today I have a pendant that hangs on an 18K gold chain that was made from gold dust that we panned on our honeymoon. The rest of the gold dust is in a small vial that is sealed and hangs from the chain. We panned every day for two weeks and had a lot of laughs and a great time. But then we were young and in love. So nothing bothered us as long as we were together and having fun. The best place to pan is at a bend in the creek. The gold accumulates at that bend. But you do have to change your location often.

  • http://www.extra-cash-online.com/ Robert Connor

    Sounds like a fun way to plan a family vacation and see the great outdoors! hmmm thanks John

  • bullamakanka

    Grab a Minelab metal detector and go wander the bush in Australia. Gold is found all the time, and you don’t have to be a pro. Just be sure to take all the precautions of being hundreds of miles from anything.

  • AK Oldman

    There are many places up here in Alaska where you can pan for gold without paying for the privilege.

  • AK Oldman

    There are many places up here in Alaska where you can pan for gold without paying for the privilege.

More Articles