Places to Pan Gold in California

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Gold Hunters can still find gold in some California lakes and rivers. Prospectors must contact the California Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for permits or risk a fine.

Man pans for gold in Wolf Creek in Jamestown, CA.
(David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Bishop Creek is located just 16 miles out of Bishop. Gold Hunters taking South Ford Road should see the creek on the left side of the road. Bishop creek does not often give up nuggets, but it is a good place for beginners.

Bishop Creek in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range near Bishop, CA.
Brent Hilleman/iStock/Getty Images

The American River Valley a good place for beginner to intermediate prospectors, the valley is a part of the Auburn State Recreation Area. Look for gold in the exposed bedrock or pan for gold in the river.

Flake of gold found in river panning in Northern California
David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images

South Yuba’s various trails have carried gold hunters into the foothill river canyons of northern California since the original gold rush. Today, there are still mining claims near the trail. BLM offers a detailed map of designated prospecting areas and where the current claims are located (see Resources).

Panning equipment and prospecting tools for sale in store
David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Tahoe National Forest offers a number of areas that are excellent for prospecting. Prospectors should look for gold near these campsites: Indian Valley, Oregon Creek, Union Flat and Wild Plum.

Trees next to a stream in Tahoe National Forest
Chris Bence/iStock/Getty Images

Prospectors can find quartz gold and even small nuggets in the Angeles National Forest. The area where prospecting is allowed begins at the East Fork bridge and ends just past the Cattle Guard bridge.

Pieces of quartz with gold and nuggets found by prospector in California
David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images

References

  • How to Get Rich in the California Gold Rush; Tod Olson, Scott Allred; 2008
  • National Geographic guide to family adventure vacations, wildlife encounters, cultural explorations and learning escapes in the U.S. and Canada; Candyce H. Stapen; 1999
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