This is a list of areas open to the public where you can search for valuable minerals in the United States and elsewhere. Many of these locations are free of charge. Others are private mines that charge a fee and yet others are club sites that require club membership. Most of the locations listed are places where you mine the material at the source yourself. Other sites have material you can mine or sort through that has been collected for you. Finally, some of these listings are not sites where you can mine but that may be of interest nonetheless, like old mines of historic interest and museums.
A key concern for many is access to places without fear that they are accidently going to be on mining claims or breaking some sort of rule. Many people have families and so areas are desired that are suitable for both the young and the very old. Ease of access is important. Many people are tourists who want to experience some local history and who may know almost nothing about prospecting and mining. Areas that are clearly defined and with easy to understand rules are important. The focus of this section of the website will therefore be to list sites set aside specifically for public mining.
Some states have very little information other than general rules and vague hints about where you might prospect. Links are provided to that information to at least get you started. Be cautious working in these states until you have more specific information. Always check the links for the latest information from original sources as things change constantly and material here can easily be out of date.
If you have suggestions for additions to this list please contact me with your information. If a site has been listed here and should not be, please notify me to have it deleted.
Alaska - Arizona - Arkansas - California - Colorado - Georgia - Idaho - Indiana - Michigan - Minnesota - Montana - New Hampshire - New Jersey - North Carolina - Oregon - South Carolina - South Dakota - Utah - Vermont - Washington - Wisconsin - Australia - Canada - Italy - New Zealand - Scotland
- Akau Alaska Gold & Resort (Fee) - New detect for gold operation near Nome, Alaska.
- Bertha Creek Panning Area - In the Chugach National Forest south of Anchorage.
- Cache Creek Cabins - Gold panning and dredging on Cache Creek near Petersville.
- Caribou Creek Recreational Mining Area - On Glenn Highway east of Palmer.
- Chicken Gold Camp (Fee) - Gold panning, suction dredging and a real bucketline dredge at Chicken, Alaska.
- Crescent Creek Panning Area - In the Chugach National Forest south of Anchorage.
- Cripple River (Fee) - The GPAA operation near Nome.
- Crow Creek Mine (Fee) - Near Girdwood south of Anchorage. Possibly Alaska's most popular public mining site.
- Dalton Highway - Gold around Wiseman in the Brooks Range.
- El Dorado Gold Mine - Two hour mining tour near Fairbanks.
- Ganes Creek Gold (now closed) - World class nugget hunting locale near McGrath in Interior Alaska.
- Gold Fever Prospecting - Opportunity to run large suction dredges near Chicken, Alaska.
- Hatcher Pass Public Use Area - Scenic public mining area along the Little Susitna River.
- Independence Mine State Historical Park - Gold panning at historic old mine.
- Indian Valley Mine - Historic mine location on Turnagain Arm.
- Jack Wade Public Gold Panning Area - Non-motorized only in the Fortymile River region.
- Kennecott National Historic Landmark - Once the largest copper mine in the world.
- Nome Beach - The famous gold beaches of Nome, Alaska.
- Nome Creek - 60 miles north of Fairbanks, 4 mile stretch of creek open to hand mining methods.
- Petersville Recreational Mining Area - Remote but road accessible site north of Anchorage.
- Resurrection Creek Panning Area - Popular public mining site near Hope, Alaska.
- Sixmile Creek Panning Area - In Chugach National Forest south of Anchorage.
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve - Gold pans only!
- Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum - Once known as The Queen of the Copper Camps, Bisbee is nestled among the Mule Mountains, an area world renowned for the diversity of its minerals and the wealth of its copper.
- Lake Pleasant Park - Gold Panning.
- Lynx Creek Mineral Withdrawal Area - Gold panning and metal detecting for gold.
- Crater of Diamonds State Park (Fee) - The largest diamond ever found in North America was found here. Maybe you can find one larger yet!
- Sweet Surrender Crystal Mine (Fee) - Dig your own quartz crystal in an operational crystal mine in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains.
- Auburn State Recreation Area - Search for gold on two forks of the American River.
- Columbia State Historic Park (Fee) - Various fee panning opportunities.
- Empire Mine State Historic Park - The Empire Mine is the site of the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in California. From 1850 to its closing in 1956, it produced 5.8 million ounces of gold. That 5.8 million ounces of gold would fill a box 7 feet on each side.
- Himalaya Tourmaline Mine (Fee) - Dig for amazing multi-colored tourmaline crystals!
- Keyesville Recreational Mining Area - Pan, sluice, dredge and dry wash for gold.
- Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park - Gold panning along Humbug Creek.
- Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park - Gold panning along the American River.
- South Yuba River & Merced River - Now closed to dredging but open to panning, sluicing, etc.
- South Yuba River State Park Project - "Hands and pans" only.
- Strike It Rich Adventures - Gold panning and mine tours.
- Arapahoe Bar - Panning and sluicing at Wheat Ridge, CO.
- Cache Creek - Non-motorized mining in the BLM Cache Creek placer area.
- Clear Creek Canyon - Recreational prospecting at Clear Creek Canyon Park.
- Fairplay Beach - Panning at Fairplay, CO
- Phoenix Gold Mine (Fee) - Pan for gold at Trail Creek near Idaho Springs.
- Allatoona Lake - Pans and shovels only.
- Consolidated Gold Mines - When you visit, you will be taken on an underground tour of the gold mine by our friendly, knowledgeable staff. Consolidated Gold Mine in Dahlonega was the site of America’s first gold rush. After the tour you will do some gold panning, and gem grubbing.
- Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site - The Dahlonega Gold Museum, located in the old Lumpkin County Courthouse, offers visitors a look at the mining history of Georgia. Gold coins minted in Dahlonega and nuggets – one weighing more than 5 ounces – are on display.
- Emerald Creek Garnet Area (Fee) - Look for rare star garnets, found in only two places on earth.
- Gold in Indiana - General rules.
- Gold in Michigan - Potential locations.
- Gold in Minnesota - General information.
ads by Amazon...
- Gold Panning at the Alta Ranch (Fee) - Pan for gold below old mining camp.
- Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area - Pan gold at old hydraulic gold mine.
- World Museum of Mining - Don't miss this 44 acre museum with over 50 structures to explore in Butte, Montana.
- Gold in New Hampshire - Information and locations.
Sterling Hill Mining Museum - An underground zinc mine in northwestern New Jersey that is open for tours.
- Access Private Property - Advice and permits.
- Carolina Emerald Mine & Vein Mountain Gold Camp (Fee) - Look for gold and emeralds.
- Mountain Creek Gold Mine (Fee) - Gold nuggets have been found here.
- Sheffield Mine (Fee) - Look for rubies and sapphires!
- Thermal City Gold Mine - Material is dug from our pit and delivered to the work site. The gravel is not "enhanced or enriched". The gold that is found here is in its natural state - right where nature has deposited it! We also have a Gem Mining operation where rough gemstone material may be found.
- Baker Ranger District - Gold panning.
- Cow Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area - Gold panning.
- Edson Creek & Sixes River - Gold panning and sluicing (pdf).
- Hobo Camp Campground - Gold panning.
- Lund Park Campground - Gold panning on Brice Creek.
- Medford District BLM - Gold panning and suction dredging in the Medford area (pdf).
- Quartzville Recreational Mining Corridor - Gold panning mining near Salem (pdf).
- Rouge River - "Hands and pans" only gold panning along the Rouge River.
- Sharp’s Creek Recreation Area - Panning, dredging, and more (pdf).
- Spectrum Sunstone Mine - Dig for the official gemstone of Oregon.
- Gold in South Carolina - Panning mentioned here.
- Black Hills Mining Museum - Enjoy our numerous exhibits and activities, including gold panning, in Lead, location of the Homestake Gold Mine.
- Wade's Gold Mill and Mining Museum - Learn to pan for gold. You can use some of the same placer gravel that is being put through the mill. You may find a little gold. Also you will find some interesting rocks and minerals, such as Quartz, Jasper, Garnets, Hematite iron ore and many other rocks and minerals of interest.
- American Fork Canyon - Gold panning.
ads by Amazon...
- Gold in Vermont - Information and locations.
- Gold in Washington - Information and locations.
- Gold in Wisconsin - Rules and tips.
- Fossicking and Gold Panning in the Northern Territory - Search for gold, gemstones, crystals and semi precious stones.
- Gold Prospecting Australia (Fee) - Metal detect for gold in the Australia outback!
- Museum Victoria - Museum Victoria has an extensive gold collection. The majority of the specimens are from the Victorian and Western Australia goldfields although representative samples from many localities are present. Victoria was famous for the large gold nuggets which were prolific on some of the alluvial goldfields. Unfortunately most of the large nuggets have been melted down, although the Museum has a selection of models of historical and recent nugget finds.
- Perth Mint - Gold of every description is on display, and watch a gold bar being poured!
- Queensland Fossicking Guide - Prospecting and metal detecting in Queensland.
- Sovereign Hill Gold Museum - Discover the beauty and power of gold through one of Australia's most impressive presentations. The Gold Museum houses an extensive and valuable collection of gold nuggets, alluvial deposits, gold ornaments and coins.
- Britannia Mine Museum - Historic copper mine and museum in Britannia, BC.
- Dredge #4 at Dawson City, Yukon - Dredge No.4 is located 12.3 km (7.8 miles) up Bonanza Creek Road just outside Dawson City. A tour allows you to explore the massive machine, the largest wooden hulled, bucket line gold dredge in North America.
- Free Claim #6 - This gold claim is situated “6 above Discovery Claim” on historic Bonanza Creek, in the Klondike Area. It was staked by F. Ladouceur in October, 1896, not long after the famous discovery about half a mile downstream. The Klondike Visitors Association now maintains the claim and visitors are welcome to pan for free and keep the gold that they find.
- Goldbottom Mine Tour (Fee) - Pan along Gold Bottom and Hunker Creeks.
- Klinker Opal Property (Fee) - Dig your own opals near Vernon, B.C.
- Biella Gold Prospectors Association - Purpose is to promote and spread the hobby of panning for gold in Italy.
- Gold Fossicking Areas - Sixteen areas have been set aside in the South Island where anyone can freely enjoy recreational gold mining without the need for a mining permit.
- Museum of Lead Mining - The Museum is unique in Scotland as it is the only former lead mine open to the public. Gold panning lessons are also available for a fee.
- Scottish Gold - The gold found will have lain untouched and unseen since time began! Panners have been finding gold here since the sixteenth century and your day will introduce you to the skills that they used.
Edited by Steve Herschbach