California Gold Panning

California Gold Panning Can Be Rewarding in Many Ways 


Panning for Gold

No, the ’49ers didn’t take it all. There’s still plenty of bling sitting around in them thar California foothills and streams.

How much? Well, it’s estimated that only 20 percent of the gold in the Mother Lode was extracted during the Gold Rush. Converted to today’s money, that’s about $50 billion between 1848 and 1855!

Not to discourage you, but much of the remaining gold is buried in the earth and therefore is inaccessible to the casual searcher. But some gold can still be found on the surface in the area’s streams and rivers. That’s where California gold panning can be mighty rewarding!

California gold panning, popularized during the Gold Rush, is a great inexpensive activity for all ages. Not only can it be relaxing and thrilling at the same time, but if you learn the proper technique (or are just darn lucky), you might strike it rich — or at least be able to take home a few small shiny souvenirs.

Gold panning offers a wide range of experiences for every level of gold seeker. Got young tots? They’ll enjoy sifting through the fleck-infused gold-panning stations at various historic parks throughout California’s Gold Country. If you’d like to become a seasoned prospector, there are classes to get you started, plus opportunities to hunt for gold on your own.

Whether you’re looking for a cool way to spend a couple of hours on the way to Yosemite or want to make a multi-day adventure of it, we’re sure you’ll find your ideal California gold panning experience right here.

Before you head out to one of our many favorite California gold panning spots, you might want to brush up on a few common gold-panning terms. Once you’ve added these to your vocabulary, you’ll be sounding like a ‘49er in no time!

Panning To wash (gravel, sand, etc.) in a pan to separate the gold from other minerals and materials.

Sluicing Long wood boxes built to run water with gravel over a series of sieves to separate the gold from other minerals and materials.

Dredging To vacuum sand and gravel from pockets on the river bottom. The gold is then separated in a sluice box.

Hydraulic Mining Though extremely productive, hydraulic mining was banned from use in 1884. Entire hillsides were washed away with highly pressurized water sending tons of mud into the rivers below.

Return to Top of Page

Return to Home Page