The California gold rush from 1848 to 1855 put California on the map as one of the premier locations for gold mining and gold panning locations in the United States. The original miners, called 49’s, used basic panning tool and techniques on the rivers stream and riverbeds in the state and were able to pull out gold worth billions of dollars today. The same techniques that worked back then still work today and that is why California is one of the top gold panning sites in the country.
California offers a wide variety of experiences from beginner to experts, both for recreation and for entrepreneurial individuals. For serious gold miners looking to make a living I would recommend starting with maps of the local gold mines within California.
For recreational gold-seeks looking for an adventure, or a family looking for a good vacation I would strongly recommend checking out the follow areas. These areas are open to the public, almost always free, and require very little preparation in terms of tools and equipment.
Recommended gold panning locations in California include:
Auburn State Recreation Area: www.parks.ca.gov - Great recreational park with access to over 45 miles of river bed and streams. The river is open to the public and accessible during normal operating hours.
Hangtown’s Gold Bug Park and Mine: www.goldbugpark.org - Awesome place to visit. This is a 65 acre park which allows you to pan for gold using troughs. A great experience for a beginner, intermediate, or family adventure.
Marshall Gold Discovery State Park: www.parks.ca.gov - This site is close to Nevada. It’s a state park, open to the public and provides 25+ miles of river and creek open for panning.
Eldorado National Forest: www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado - The National Forest has two sites open to the public for gold panning in certain areas but the visit to the National Forest is worth it just by itself. Great trip!
Malakoff Diggins State Park: www.parks.ca.gov - Humbug Creek is a great place for gold panning. This state park is open to the public and offers 27+ miles of river for panning.
Tahoe National Forest: www.parks.ca.gov - This area has a few public designated gold panning sites. Both are along the Yuba River on the north and south sides of the park.
Columbia State Historic Park: www.parks.ca.gov - Great spot! The Matelot Gulch Mining Company inside offers panning lessons for a minimal cost. The park itself is free and accessible to the public.
These are only some of the many sites available in California for gold panning. Usually public parks are a great place to start but feel free to seek out other companies that offer gold panning lessons. These companies typically own their own claim and will let you pan for hours with very little cost. One great site, which this informational site has no affiliation to, is Gold Prospecting Adventures. They own their own claim in Jamestown CA and offer classes and panning equipment. Check out their site at www.goldprospecting.com.
Also, if anyone has visited any of the sites mentioned in this article and would like to provide additional information or reviews feel free to leave a comment. Feedback is always welcome and beneficial to everyone!