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Where and How to Pan For Gold in Colorado, Panning and Prospecting Rivers

Updated on May 3, 2018

Atomic No. 79

Element symbol: Au

Panning and Prospecting for gold in Colorado.

Where does gold come from ?

Gold is not from Earth. Natural gold is not created on Earth, it comes from outer space. Formed millions of years ago by collapsing stars and supernovas', gold was transported to Earth by large meteorites.

Most of the gold on Earth is near to the centre of the planet. The gold bearing meteorites arrived millions of years ago whilst the planet Earth was still molten rock.

The density of gold ensured that it sank deep into the molten rock. As the Earth began to cool, the gold was trapped miles deep inside the planet.

50% of the worlds gold comes from a single meteorite which landed some 2020 million years ago in South Africa.

As of 2007, only 171,300 tonnes of gold have been mined out of the Earth around the globe. That is enough to make a cube 21 meters square. All this gold would easily fit under the Eiffel Tower with room to spare. By 2018, it is estimated that 190,040 tonnes have been excavated.

There is no estimate as to how much gold there is still undetected on the planet.

Gold is brought to the surface by rivers and volcanoes as well as earth quakes.

Free Link: Gold Panning Top Places Within The USA.

Colorado Mines

Open cast gold mining in Colorado produces most of the states gold.

There are three commercial mines producing hundreds of tons of gold every year in Colorado.

This indicates that there is till lots of gold to be prospected in Colorado.

River panning or sluicing is the optimal method to mine for gold for individuals or families. Panning is the cheapest way and also the most fun.

Fast flowing rivers erode rock away releasing gold flakes and nuggets over thousands of years. These flakes and nuggets travel with the river through underground tunnels and eventually onto the surface.

The gold pieces are then carried down river where it can be mined.

Cripple Creek


Gold was discovered in the Cripple Creek area in 1891. The area has the highest amount of gold deposits found within the Colorado state and is the third biggest gold producing area in the US.

The area sits on an ancient volcano measuring approximately 6 miles square. There are 5,564 natural streams in Colorado, with each possibly bearing gold flakes and nuggets.

The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine offers tours and panning experiences. Cripple Creek has been the main river for finding gold in, although other rivers in the area have had claims made on them.

The town of Cripple Creek offers every home comfort and caters for adventurous gold prospecting vacations. Panning on Cripple Creek may produce the best chance of getting gold in the area.

Idaho Springs


Gold was discovered here where Chicago Creek joins Clear Creek in 1859. Here the hot springs have associated with releasing gold flakes into the local creeks.

Gregory Gulch was once a hot spot for gold panning. This was the sight of a gold bearing vein which produced a large amount of gold.

Through 1959, some 200 tons of gold were retrieved commercially from deeper veins in and around Idaho .

The Colorado mineral belt stretches from Idaho Springs ,along Clear Creak and over the mountains to the Blue River.

Panning for gold in these rivers may produce significant results.Never be disheartened if the first few pans produce little color, keep trying.



in 1850, gold was discovered in the Denver area of Clear Creek. Since then many hopeful prospectors have descended upon the creek hoping to increase their wealth.

Only 1% of gold miners over time have increased their wealth considerably from Clear Creek. Many have given up after a short period of time.

Gold prospecting should only be seen as a hobby, and not as substitute for full time employment.

A minor gold rush was started in 1858 but soon died out. There is allegedly little gold left in the area but some gold has recently been found in Cherry Creek and the South Platte River.

How to pan for gold

Other places to pan for gold in Colorado include South Park and Breckenridge.

Searching for gold in rivers may produce the best amount of gold possible for individual prospectors.

Using a sluice machine will help cover more of the river bed in a shorter amount of time rather than panning each area.

Gold is almost 20 times more dense than water, and will sink to the river bed where the water flow is reduced. This usually behind large boulders or obstructions in the river.

Where the river bends, the internal side of the bend, where the river slows, is also a hot spot for gold flakes and nuggets to be deposited.

As the gold drops to the floor, it will embed itself in the lowest point possible. If the river bed is clay, there may be an abundance of gold flakes trapped within the clay.

Usually gold can be found on top of bedrock, underneath pebbles and sand.


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