Gold Prospecting on Public Lands

Jack Wade Gold Public Prospecting area along the Taylor Highway in Alaska. Gold Prospecting on Public Lands.
Jack Wade Gold Public Prospecting area along the Taylor Highway in Alaska. Gold Prospecting on Public Lands.

Gold Prospecting on Public Lands. I recently received a question via email: “Hi Rod. I’ve read your website over the years. Do you know how many acres of public lands are open to prospecting? Keep up the good work, Ben.”

Well, first off thanks, Ben. I don’t have an exact number to give you. From my reading there are millions of acres of public lands open to gold prospecting between the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. In addition, Gold Prospecting on Public Lands is a great opportunity for people to enjoy the outdoors. You might even get lucky and as a result of your efforts find a gold nugget or two. You must respect Wilderness areas and understand what you can and cannot do within their boundaries. Same applies to State land. While the laws do vary by state you’ll need to perform the research for yourself. 

Gold Prospecting on Public Lands – Equipment

Most prospectors use gold pans, sluices, dredges, drywashers, and metal detectors to recover gold. The sluices and dredges are mainly for areas with plenty of water like Alaska, Montana, Idaho, etc. just to name a few. Drywashers for the desert states like Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, etc. Gold pans can be used just about anywhere. Some people practicing the long lost art of “dry panning”. There are some metal detectors that can be used at limited depths underwater. With other detector models, the detector coil is submersible. Most metal detectors are not waterproof. Check with the local ranger or field office if you have any questions about the types of equipment that you can use because you don’t want to get yourself into trouble. 

Gold Prospecting on Public Lands – Travel

Furthermore, Gold Prospecting on Public Lands is also a great way to travel and see the country. There are several clubs who hold claims in multiple states. Clubs are great for folks just getting started because new prospectors need help and guidance. The clubs are a mixed bag. To clarify, there are a number of active clubs. Conversely other clubs are social in nature.And some just want a place to go and enjoy their pastime. For more information you may wish to read Prospecting for Gold in the United States by Harold Kirkemo.

I am not an attorney. This article is not legal advice. You are responsible for your own actions and decisions. Good luck and may the bottom of your pan always be yellow!

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