Where to go Gold Panning in California

There are six gold panning regions in California. Most, if not all regions in California offer gold prospecting opportunities. From dry desert and valley washes to the raging rivers of the mountains, there is gold to be found. Tourists, serious prospectors, rock hunters, and hobbyists scour the hills and dales of California on a year round basis. Gold panning is allowed in public parks, and by permission from owners of private land. Many itinerant prospectors travel onto private land without permission, but take risks when they do so.

Panning for gold is part of the “Placer mining” that is allowed by the Bureau of Land Management “Pan And The Hand” rule. If only a pan and the hands are used to collect gold, then no damage to the land or environment results, and few, if any restrictions apply. The use of non destructive sluices, and dry washers is also allowed. Digging with shovels or dredging, however, is not allowed under the “Pan And The Hand” rule.

One of the safest and easiest ways to pan for gold in California is to visit any of the camps set up for the public to pay a fee, then go for as much gold as they can find. Sluices, buckets of soil, and water is provided. Whether it’s a million dollar nugget or a few flakes, the customer keeps what they find. The best camps provide historical reviews, training, and supplies so that even the novice prospector can find some gold.

Gold region one: Extreme Southeastern region of California. This is a desert environment that extends from Death Valley to the Mexico border. Death Valley and Needles are the most well known towns. This is a dangerous area due to desert conditions. Prospecting in dry washes and through mining tailings with metal detectors is popular in the cooler seasons. Desert dry washes, however, are very dangerous places to be, as they can become raging torrents within minutes.

Gold region two: Extreme South of California. From the Mexican Border to the South, to Riverside at the North, to The Salton Sea and Joshua Tree National Monument to the East. Cities and towns include San Diego, Riverside, Santa Ana, San Bernardino, and Palm Springs. Two National Forests, Cleveland and San Bernardino are included. This is a prime area for day drives from the major cities, and prospecting in a variety of gold rich environments.

Gold region three: The greater, greater Los Angeles Area. There are too many mountain ranges to go into here. Big Bear lake has the most prospecting sites, with other sites spread throught the area. Gold region three has a rich and wonderful gold rush history.

Gold region four: The area of Bakersfield and Fresno in the Valley, plus the mountainous areas that include the Sierras and the Techapes, leads to rich prospecting opportunities. The Kern River and Isabella Lake areas offer the richest opportunities.

Gold region five: The Mother Lode! From the discovery of gold at Sutters Mill, to the hydraulic mining that washed silt down into the San Francisco Bay, the best region for prospecting, beyond a doubt, is Gold Region Five. The entire region is a web of major rivers, streams, and washes which work year round to move gold into position for placer “hand and pan” mining! If you are looking for gold, this is the region to do it in. A good place to start is in Plumas County, where new prospectors are welcome.

Gold region six: The Klamath Mountains contain the second most prolific source of gold In California. The most abundant placer (surface) deposits are are in Shasta, Siskiyou, and Trinity Counties.

For a very detailed discussion of all of the gold mining zones in California, go to: California Gold Mines, Gold Prospecting, etc.