I have some gold pans and a portable shovel. I live in California and I am interested in places with camping grounds and nearby water to do some recreational gold panning.

Know of any good places for a beginner?

  • 1
    You may have more joy on travel.stackexchange.com
    – user2766
    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:40
  • 6
    If anybody knew of a good spot to find gold, do you think they'd reveal it online ;)
    – Blackbear
    Mar 21, 2014 at 13:43
  • 5
    Is your goal to make money, to find a little bit of dust for a souvenir, or just to have an excuse to get outside in a pleasant environment and splash around?
    – user2169
    Mar 21, 2014 at 14:42
  • I don't want to make money, just for fun! Finding tiny gold flakes is enough for me.
    – Felix Y.
    Mar 31, 2014 at 6:31

2 Answers 2


If you want to do this as a hobby, there's lots of places you can go. The American, Yuba, & Klammath rivers have the most gold. A lot of the parks have something in place to allow to do a little panning. You should be able to find a few flakes to show your friends, but you won't make any substantial money doing it. Also, using any kind of mechanical help, like a sluice, is not allowed.

Most of the good places to find gold already have claims filed, so you won't be able pan there without permission. Some of those claims are owned by clubs, so you'll have to join to get access.

Just a word of warning, if you're trying to do anything more than a hobby, you may be disappointed. really looking for gold is hard work, requires expensive equipment, and often proves to be a bust. If you still want to do it, look for ads for used equipment. A lot of people give up shortly after buying a lot of new equipment.

Lastly, if you strike it rich, remember who helped you out. :-)


You can visit Columbia, CA (also near Yosemite) to check out a historical state park where they offer gold panning activities. This might be a fun place to go since you can see a lot of history for the CA gold rush. Link to CA Park website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=552

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