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7 Places Where You Can Still Pan for Gold

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!

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