The United States has natural gold in every state but it takes a good concentration of AU (atomic number 79) for gold digging to be profitable. Public lands are available for new prospectors to take advantage of and dig for gold. You can dig for gold in waterways that trap the traveling gold or in dry deserts where ancient waterways once roared. Separate the gold from the rest of the ground material to dig your way to riches.
Pinpoint a mining location using maps and information provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Pack for travel and mining using the same techniques as you would to travel for vacation. Remember to load the equipment as it will be needed on site. Site location will determine the type of mining you will be doing. Water operations are different than dry mining and the equipment should complement the type of mining you plan to perform.
Locate areas on the claim that are going to be sampled for their gold concentration. Sampling will determine where you will dig for gold. Determining the location of high concentrations of natural gold in areas that are natural collection sites will produce more profit for time spent digging.
Set up a sluice box and ore collector to deposit your gold ore. Water fed mining equipment like a dredge for underwater removal of ore runs with water as the agitator and removal tool for non-gold debris. A sluice box can be hand fed or fed by a dredge or both at the same time. Having a way to separate the gold after it has been dug from the ground is as important as good sampling when mining.
Remove large rocks and boulders to get at the hard pack material underneath. Water will collect and pack that earth with gold deposits. Uncover large stones until the ground is compact and solid. Shovel the area in 6-inch increments, sampling for gold. Determine where the gold is at it highest concentration and go to the next spot and search there too. Increase concentrations to increase profits.
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.