With its bright color, lustrous shine and high value, just about everyone would love to stumble across some gold. We even use the phrase 'struck gold' to describe when someone has found or created something really great. However, part of the allure of finding gold – and the primary reason it is so valuable – is the fact that gold is quite rare and difficult to find, especially in large quantities.
To help you raise your chances of finding gold, you should know where to look geographically, where to dig for the best chance of finding gold and how to dig for gold.
In Which States Are You Most Likely to Find Gold?
The United States produces the fourth-most gold on the planet, behind only Russia, Australia and China. Gold is present in higher concentrations in certain states in the United States. Some states just have more gold than others! If you live in a state that has historically contained larger quantities of gold, or you travel to one, you raise your chances of finding some when you dig for gold.
The very first person to discover gold in the United States did so in 1799 in North Carolina. However, North Carolina doesn't break the top five states in gold production. You'll have better luck finding gold by searching in Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, California or Arizona – in that order.
Where Should You Look for Gold?
The best location for you to begin your search for gold is along a river or stream. Moving water slowly breaks down stone over time, exposing gold flakes and nuggets. These bits of gold are carried downstream by the current, particularly after a storm when the water moves more quickly.
As the water slows down, the gold settles to the bottom of the river or stream or is deposited along the banks. Take a close look at the stream as you travel along it for areas where the water slows down or where sand bars develop. These areas are the spots that you should survey closer in your search for gold.
If you're not particularly inclined to go trudging around stream beds, you can also choose gold mine tourist attractions to look for gold instead. They will provide you with all the tools you need and show you how to dig and how to pan for gold.
Things You'll Need
- A metal detector – This will help you narrow down sites that could contain gold. The more hits you get on the metal detector, the more likely you are to find gold. Additionally, the more sensitive your metal detector is, the better chance you have at finding gold.
- Shovels and other digging equipment – Shovels will help you remove a quantity of sand to pan and sift for gold. Smaller hand shovels can also help you divide this sample into smaller amounts more easily.
- Buckets – A series of buckets and smaller containers can help you divide your samples up into more manageable sizes while you dig for gold.
- Gold pan – The gold pan is the tool you will use to sift out the sand and search for gold flakes and nuggets.
- A sealable jar or similar container – Especially with smaller flakes, you will need a sealable container to hold your gold in when you find it.
Move along your river or stream in search of an appropriate location. Once you've found a likely spot, run your metal detector over the surface. Mark any locations where the metal detector indicates a hit. Use your shovel to take samples from these locations.
Once you've removed samples from the ground, place small quantities in your gold pan. Submerge the gold pan far enough beneath the water to cover the sample but not wash it over the top of the pan. Shuffle the pan back and forth to allow the smaller sediments to fall through the pan. Search the remaining, larger pieces for signs of gold, and repeat!
- Classify the ore using screens to get at the highest concentrations of gold per cubic foot of ore. Know the type of gold you are going after and eliminate all the rocks and larger debris as soon as possible using the sluice box or pan.
- Mining laws are enforced in all 50 states. Dig for gold only where the law allows. Water hazards include drowning and mining hazards include injury from falling debris, head injuries and assorted broken bones in the arms and legs.
About the Author
Marina Somma is a freelance writer and animal trainer. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Marine and Environmental Biology & Policy from Monmouth University. Marina has worked with a number of publications involving animal science, behavior and training, including animals.net, SmallDogsAcademy and more.