According to the United States Geological Survery (USGS), there are still locations where you can stake a claim if you find gold. The most likely states to find gold include California, Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Oregon, Washington, North Dakota and South Dakota. You can go out and search on your own in any unappropriated federal land. However, the easiest way to get started is going through one of the recreational mining companies.
Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost
Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost (chickengold.com) is located in Chicken, Alaska. Not only does the site cater to present-day gold-hunting tourists, but it is built on the same site where an authentic 1930s gold mining camp was located. Learn about the history of gold mining in Alaska. You can stay at the campground or rent a cabin or single room. Other activities at the camp include kayaking, hiking and ATV trails and a local music festival.
The Phoenix Gold Mine
The Phoenix Gold Mine (phoenixgoldmine.com) is located in Idaho Springs, Colorado. You'll pan for gold on Trail Creek, which is where the Phoenix gold vein is located. This vein of gold was first discovered in 1871. You'll learn all about the history of the mine while there. The cost to gain access to the area includes a tour of the original mining operations and then the chance to pan for gold yourself. You also have the option of panning for gold all day, if you'd prefer to only pan. The location is open year-round.
Alta Ranch (alta-ranch.com) is located in Darby, Montana. You will pan for gold under an old mining camp. It is located only four hours to the south of Glacier National Park, making a trip to Alta Ranch a family vacation destination with access to one of nature's wonders within a day's drive. You can rent a cabin for the entire family. Other things to do in the area include hiking, horseback riding, hot springs and rock hounding or digging for gemstones.
Faith Creek Camp
Faith Creek Camp (angelfire.com/ak5/faithcreekgold) is located in Fairbanks, Alaska. You can rent a cabin near the creek and rent equipment to pan or dredge for gold. The facilities are primitive and the main activities involve the outdoor elements of hunting for gold, hiking and just enjoying the peace and quiet of nature. The camp is open from May 15 to September 15. If the weather remains warm enough, the camp is occasionally open after the September 15 date.