While Arkansas would not be a prospector's first choice of places to visit, it does contain some gold to entertain a recreational panner. Arkansas has had gold activity in the past, although amounts found were never in concentrations high enough to sustain a working mining industry. Since the early 1500s people have come to the area in search of gold, however. Although there's been no news of large strikes, small caches are often claimed.
Arkansas has had its share of gold prospectors. It is said that gold was first taken from the area in the 1540s by the Spanish. Prospectors searched the state throughout the early 1800s. In 1838 large quantities of gold were struck in Georgia and prospectors moved east, then headed west in the late 1840s when gold was struck in California. In the 1880s prospecting picked up again, this time with silver the target. While some turned up, the amounts were not significant. Silver bearing areas brought in some gold, but not enough to keep gold mining a profitable proposition in the state.
Though commercial concentrations of gold do not come from Arkansas, the recreational prospector can find some gold. The gold areas are in the northwestern area of the state, in the Ouachita Mountains. In Saline County, gold turns up in small amounts, dropped by the churning springs of the area. The Bear City district, west of Hot Springs, was an area of previous silver mining that produced a bit of gold. The gold is associated with the shales of this area. Streams in this area where shales are present are good places to check. Small amounts of gold are also associated with quartz rich, crystal bearing areas of the South Ouachitas.
Those interested in finding gold may want to pursue it via treasure hunting rather than panning. If legends are correct, several caches of gold are hidden and are yet to be discovered. One legend reports a $7,500 in gold coins were taken in a stagecoach robbery at Taylors Creek just North of Colt. Another one is reported to be hidden in the Old Spanish Treasure Cave in the Sulphur Springs area. Where there is gold, there are places that gold has been buried for later retrieval. With a little research the prospector might find gold already processed into valuable coins.
You can find other minerals in the areas of gold bearing streams, such as antimony, vanadium, manganese, titanium and bauxite. Wavellite, variscite, strengite, planerite and other minerals are also associated with the rock of gold bearing areas. The Ouachita Mountains contain some of the finest quartz crystals in the country. Crater of Diamonds State Park, just south of the quartz areas, is the only publicly accessible diamond mine, with diamond finds being common.