Of course, we would all like to know where the gold prospecting areas are. In fact there are heaps of gold prospecting areas in most states of the US as well as many countries overseas. Many have been worked over already of course several times but there are still ways of finding gold in the two main types of gold deposits, placer gold and lode gold.
You just have to think outside the square and not look in places where many others simply gravitate to because it seems easy. Many people go to find gold in those same areas that others have been to before. True in many you can still find some grains of gold but you can also spend a lot of time just shifting through what has been shifted through before or run a gold metal detector over what has been run over before.
So we have some tips and ideas here of where to prospect for gold.
Prospecting Gold Areas and Maps
Gold has been found in almost all areas of the US as well as South Africa, Australia and many other countries around. Even the UK has its gold deposits. But these are all areas where gold has been found. Locals will always tell you where gold has been found. Rarely will they tell you where it will be found.
But even that information can be useful.
Taking the USA for example, gold can be found in almost all of the states. The gold is either embedded in rock, known as lode gold, or is moved by water and deposited in sand, crevasses, rock, and stream beds. Gold is heavy and so tends to get lodged in cracks and crevices. It will settle out where the flow slows, and work its way down to the bottom of deposited sediments which are then known as concentrates. Being aware of this means it is a bit easier to work out where in a stream to pan for gold. Even dry stream beds can contain placers of gold which have been laid down by flows of water long ago. The best time, however, to work a stream for placer gold is just after a heavy rainfall, The streams are fuller and faster moving and will tend to bring more gold down from higher up.
Gold also occurs naturally in rock. This is called Lode Gold. This usually needs a gold metal detector to locate. Naturally occurring gold can be found in almost all fifty states.
Gold is found in all major States of the US. So it is easy to find close to where you live. There will be Government records, in the form of geological reports and maps, which will tell you where and in what quantity gold has been recovered in the past.
Keep in mind that as gold is washed down into placers on a regular basis, over time, areas where a lot of gold has been found by earlier miners will still likely have more deposits. The 49 ers did not get it all. Far from it. More gold is continually being washed down, particularly after heavy rain falls.
Of course gravity is the reason gold collects in placers. Gold, being six to seven times heavier than the sediments you find at the bottom of streams, tends to get lodged in crevices and by the usual irregularities you find in stream beds. It takes a lot of force for water to move gold downstream so rapids are not the best place to prospect for gold. Slow moving streams where gold is more likely to become lodged will provide a better option.
Sometimes a metal detector can find gold here a bit quicker than using a gold pan.
Prospecting Gold Permission
In order to prospect for gold you will usually need, in some States or countries, a licence to mine or prospect. You will need to check with the authorities in your area for this. You will also need the permission of the land owner to enter and prospect on their land. Where the land is owned by the Government, or in Australia or the UK Crown Land, you may or may not require permission from the local governmental or State body. In the US one should contact the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and find out the lie of the land (pun intended) before simply embarking on a gold prospecting tour.
National parks in the USA, are closed to prospecting for example. But certain lands under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management can be entered for prospecting provided the sets of rules and regulations govern entry are followed.
The following statement from a pamphlet issued in 1978 by the U.S. Department of the Interior and entitled "Staking a mining claim on Federal Lands" answers the question, "Where can I prospect for gold?"
"There are still areas where you may prospect, and if a discovery of a valuable, locatable mineral is made, you may stake a claim. These areas are mainly in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Such areas are mainly unreserved, unappropriated Federal public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the U.S.
Department of the Interior and in national forests administered by the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Public land records in the proper BLM State Office will show you which lands are closed to mineral entry under the mining laws. These offices keep up-to-date land status plats that are available to the public for inspection. BLM is publishing a series of surface and mineral ownership maps that depict the general ownership pattern of public lands. These maps may be purchased at most BLM Offices. For a specific tract of land, it is advisable to check the official land records at the proper BLM State Office."
Another important reason for checking government records is that some areas are off limits to gold prospecting for one reason or another. Also some areas have already been claimed by earlier prospectors.
Prospecting Placer Gold Deposits
A placer gold deposit is where there is a concentration of a natural material accumulated in the sediment of stream beds or even a beach or other natural residual deposit. This is different to gold in rock that is exposed by weathering or some natural or man make process. Placers associated with gravels that are stream remnants from an older erosion cycle are usually a good area to prospect also.
The gold pan (for more information on Gold Panning go to Gold Prospecting) is a shallow plastic or metal pan used to separate gold particles or nuggets from sediment usually found at the bottom of streams or waterways.
There are many gold placer districts in the US. California has, among others, the Feather, Mokelumne, American, Cosumnes, Calaveras, and Yuba Rivers. The Trinity River in northern California also has concentrated quantities of gold in gravels.
Most of the gold mined from Alaska was obtained from placers. There are many rivers, tributaries and streams in Alaska and many have gold deposits in them. Alaska is also known for having gold on its beaches although a gold metal detector is probably the way to go for that. One of the best placer-mining regions has been the Yukon River basin which crosses central Alaska. Beach deposits in the Nome district in the south-central part of the Seward Peninsula can be a fruitful area to explore also. Other productive placers have been found in the drainage basin of the Copper River and the Kuskokwim River.
A little further down in Montana, you find the main placer-mining districts are in the southwestern part of the State. The most productive being at Alder Gulch near Virginia City in Madison County. Other placer localities include the Missouri River in the Helena mining district and the famous Last Chance Gulch, the site of the city of Helena. There are many other placer areas on the headwaters and tributaries of the Missouri River and especially in Madison County ranking third in total gold production in the State.
Idaho is not just famous for potatoes. It was once a leading placer-mining State. Extremely fine-grained (or "flour") gold has been found in sand deposits along the Snake River in southern Idaho.
Placers have also been mined in Colorado in the Fairplay district in Park County, and in the Breckenridge district in Summit County.
Oregon has more than timber. Important placer mining regions include the streams and rivers that flow from the Blue and Wallowa Mountains. The Burnt River and its tributaries have yielded gold. Farther to the west, placer mining has been productively carried on for many years in the John Day River valley. In southwestern Oregon, tributaries of the Rogue River and neighboring streams in the Klamath Mountains have been known sources of placer gold.
The Black Hills of Dakota have been producing placer gold for many years, particularly in the deadwood and French Creek near Custer areas. Also in Washington and the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries)
Gold, in fact, can be found in most states, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California are the more drier states where one can find gold.
In the eastern States, gold has been washed from some streams draining the eastern slope of the southern Appalachian region in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. However, much of the land in these States is privately owned and permission is definitely needed to prospect here.
Prospecting Lode Gold Deposits
Load gold is different to placer gold. Lode gold occurs within the solid rock in which it was originally deposited. Most of the known load gold deposit areas have been worked over many times and it takes a determined prospector to find gold in these areas. However, having said that, it can be well worth while moving to just outside of these areas. Gold prospecting on the fringe with a gold metal detector, can be very fruitful with careful detecting and a lot of patience.
The areas in the US where new discoveries of lode gold could be found are too many to list here but some famous districts are: California, the Alleghany, Sierra City, Grass Valley, and Nevada City districts, and the Mother Lode belt; in Colorado, the Cripple Creek, Telluride, Silverton, and Ouray districts; in Nevada, the Goldfield, Tonopah, and Comstock districts; in South Dakota, the Lead district in the Black Hills; and in Alaska, the Juneau and Fairbanks districts. Deposits in these districts are generally gold-quartz lodes.
Prospecting for lode deposits of gold is as easy as it once was as most outcrops or exposures of mineralized rock have been examined and sampled. A prospector today has to do more work to find gold deposits. Checking broken rock on mine dumps and exposures of mineralized rock in accessible mine workings is one way. Gold, if present, may not be visible in the rock and a good quality gold metal detector will be needed.
Last Word on Gold Prospecting Areas
Probably the biggest amount of time spent on gold prospecting areas will be in the research and finding the areas to prospect. Having done that well and, armed with your gold prospecting tools, you can have a lot of exciting fun discovering and finding gold in new gold prospecting areas.