Gold is one of the most precious metals on Earth, and many geologists and gemologists are claiming that the Earth is about to run out of gold sometime soon. They’re already difficult to dig for, and the price of gold just keeps getting higher and higher each year. Gold has many uses in today’s world, and it might be time to go digging for some before it becomes even harder to find them. Gold prospecting has become a tourist activity in many places, and it’s something worth checking out and experiencing for sure. Here are 10 touristy gold mines that allow public tours and maybe prospecting, panning, and digging.
1. El Dorado Canyon Mine Tours, Nevada
Dating back from 1861 to 1942, the Techatticup Mine was the richest gold mine in Southern Nevada. It’s the oldest to date and one that you can visit and tour. As a visitor, you’ll get to walk inside the mine about a quarter of a mile deep. The tour takes a little over a hour and is open to the entire family. You can learn all about the history of the area on this tour and see what it’s like to be a miner back in the days.
2. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, California
Start your trip at the visitor center and museum to get all the information you’ll need to explore the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Located in Coloma, California, this historic park offers a gold discovery tour and the opportunity to pan for gold. The tours are all guided walking tours and will take you through the sites of the Coloma Valley before the discovery of gold in the area. After your tour, you can learn how to pan for gold on your own. It’ll take only 15 minutes before you can start looking for gold yourself. You’ll pay $8 for the tutorial and 30 minutes of panning.
3. Alabama Gold Camp, Alabama
Become an official gold prospector at the Alabama Gold Camp located in Lineville, Alabama. You can stay at the prospecting shack or camp on the grounds for a few days to get a feel for the land. There are miles of creek for you to explore and pan here; you’ll likely get at least some flakes during your trip. If you prefer not to stay on-site, you can always just visit for the day.
4. Big Thunder Gold Mine, South Dakota
Imagine yourself on one of the adventure TV channels—Discovery, History, and Travel—and imagine yourself finding the next big nugget of gold. It could happen at the Big Thunder Gold Mine if you’re lucky. The South Dakota mine is famous because it’s been featured on television many times. This mine has a museum to visit and a tour to participate in. Afterwards, try your luck out panning for gold on-site or explore a genuine Black Hills gold claim to increase your chances.
5. Consolidated Gold Mine, Georgia
Not all the gold in the U.S. is in the West Coast. You can definitely explore Georgia’s Consolidated Gold Mine and find little treasures here and there. What’s unique about this gold mine is that you actually get to go underground to do both gold and gem mining. There are also opportunities to pan for gold seven days a week in other parts of the mine. The guides will teach you how it’s done first, and then you can go on your own to find an adventure.
6. Crow Creek Gold Mine, Alaska
The gold rush of Alaska was one thrilling historical event. You have a chance to relive this history at the Crow Creek Gold Mine in Girdwood. This mine was one of the largest producing mines in the state. Due to several circumstances, the historic mining camp has been well-preserved. You can get access to explore and prospect on some areas, but Crow Creek offers more than that. The exquisite gardens, stunning mountain vistas, and incredible hiking trails are enough to warrant a visit.
7. Gold Prospecting Adventures, California
Gold Prospecting Adventures has been offering the public exciting opportunities for panning and mining for over 40 years now. You might be starting to wonder whether there’s actually any more gold left in California. You might have to head out to Jamestown, California to find out. Take the whole family out there for a unique family adventure and see who can find the biggest nugget—or smallest flake for that matter.
8. Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area, Montana
Within the Kootenai National Forest, you can play a fun game of finders keepers. Any gold you find while panning at the Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area is yours. There are a few rules you’ll need to follow, but the rest is fair game. Libby Creek also offers other recreational activities in addition to panning. There’s hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, and also camping. It’s the perfect place to unwind for a weekend and the best place to find your next treasure.
9. Gold Bug Park & Mine, California
Because it’s open only on the weekend, prospecting at the Gold Bug Park and Mine is even more challenging. Located in Placerville, California, the Gold Bug Park and Mine gives you access to a museum, a stamp mill presentation, blacksmith demonstrations, and many more for free admission. To pan for gold, you’ll only have to pay $2 per hour. It might take you a couple of hours to find something, or you might find nothing at all. Either way, this trip is worth it just for the location alone.
10.Reed Gold Mine, North Carolina
The Reed Gold Mine in Midland, North Carolina holds a special place in history as the site of the first ever documented gold find. It turns out, gold production was most prominent in North Carolina until 1848, just before the gold rush happened. There are no fees to get into the mine, and you’ll even get access to tour the underground mine on your own. While the mine is open for visitors Tuesday to Saturday all year, you can only pan for gold on certain days. You’d have to pay to pan, but it isn’t much. Stop by the visitor center upon your visit to get more information on panning sessions and fees.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn