How to Spot Areas to Pan for Gold

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Gold maintains its value, making the search for raw gold well worth the effort for hobby gold-seekers. The general rule in finding gold is this: Where it was found before it will be found again. Hobby prospectors generally pan for gold while people intent on finding gold in large quantities utilize sluice boxes and rockers to move more stream material. Whatever the method used, the gold-seeker first needs to understand where gold can be found in a stream.

Study topographical maps of an area to learn the country and the terrain through which potential gold streams run.

Walk along the stream bank and search out pools of water below rapids and eddies behind rocks.

Seek out quiet water below rapids. Gold tumbles along with the swift current and then sinks to the stream bottom when it reaches quiet water.

Dig into cracks in submerged bedrock. Gold falls into the cracks as the current pushes it along with other stream material.

Pan for gold in pools of still water where dirt has been washed off the hillsides and into the stream.

Things You'll Need

  • Gold pan
  • Topographical maps


  • Gold has, throughout history, been sought in many streams, rivers and creeks in the United States. Concentrate gold-hunting efforts on streams that have a history of having gold in them.

    Gold is heavy, therefore it settles deep into the sand and sediment on the stream bottom. Dig deep into the sand in the places where gold settles.


  • Most public lands allow hobby gold panning, but it's still a good idea to check the regulations for the area you plan to work.

    Permission must be obtained to go onto private property. Often, private land borders public land.

    Many mining claims exist along streams; do not pan an area that is claimed.