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Striking it rich in California’s Gold Country

November 23, 2011

Striking it rich in California’s Gold Country

sutters mill gold mine investor bug panning sluicing rush claim incomeWhen the gold rush started at Sutter’s Mill, California in 1848 over 300,000 came to seek their fortune. Unfortunately, most left empty handed. Perhaps the most ironic thing about the California gold rush was that someone like Samuel Brannan who’s business was to sell tools and supplies to the miners, became one of the wealthiest men in all of California!

160 years later the allure of finding gold in California is alive and well, especially with gold prices approaching $2000/ ounce. So how can you find your own claim and retire wealthy? Well like most stories there’s good news and bad…read on!

The Good News

According to geologists it is believed that 80% of California’s gold is still waiting to be discovered, mined or panned! Even after several multiple “Gold Rush” events in history, including the one that’s on right now, there is still gold out there waiting to be found. And when gold is present in a river or stream, it’s fairly easy to “pan” it out – the heavy duty equipment seen on TV just speeds up the process.

The Bad News

As the saying goes, nothing is free and finding a public area to pan for gold can be difficult. Many of the prime areas in California are located on private lands or are controlled by claims already made by others searching for their fortunes in gold. However, there are a few options and even some locations where you can pan for gold without paying a fee.

Finding The Free Gold

old miner pan gold sluice rush sutter mill coloma 1849 claim mineMineral Bar in Northern California is one such place where you can still pan for gold free. Prospecting is allowed within the campground area as it is part of the Auburn State Recreation Area – government land. Because of it’s status, no mining claims can be staked here, however you will need to limit how far you venture out, as once you leave the recreation area you may enter private lands or areas with private claims.

The campground is located on the North Fork of the American River not far from Iowa Hill. Even though this area has been mined for years, many folks are still pulling some nice gold out of this area with out too much effort. The gold you will find here is often of the small flaky variety – don’t expect to find too many nuggets here!

Getting there… it’s about 2 miles east of Colfax, which is northeast of Sacramento. Heading up Interstate I-80 you’ll need to find Iowa Hill Road, just off the frontage road on the east side of the Interstate. Iowa Hill Road is paved but it does have a few sharp curves and can be a little steep in some locations. Follow Iowa Hill Road East until you reach the bridge crossing the American River.

columbia sonora gold country california rush mine pan sluice rich supplies storeOther options

If you’re not looking to devote an entire day to your gold panning expedition, there are plenty of places within California’s Gold Countrywhere you can just drop in and try your luck at panning for  few hours.

Here’s a list of a few places I’ve visited that you may want to check out:

  • Jamestown – Jamestown Gold Panning provides private panning and sluicing excursions on their private claims. Call (209) 984-4038 or email:
  • Jamestown – Gold Prospecting Adventures provides individual and group excursions with either hand panning or their Bonanza high-speed sluicing option giving gold hunters the chance to process up to 1000 pans of gold each hour! For reservations and pricing contact them at (800)596-0009 or email:

Best of luck on your gold hunt!

From → Claim, Gold, Gold Rush, Mining

One Comment
  1. i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.

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