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Searching for Gold in Colorado

Updated on November 10, 2013

Panning Gold for Fun, Relaxation and Profit

With Gold prices rising, the hobby of panning for gold is becoming very popular. I find the activity quite relaxing with brief moments of excitement when small gold pieces are found in the bottom of the pan. With practice you should be able to float out all of the uninteresting material in you pan and be left with gold. The key is knowing what to look for in a Gold Panning site and how to tell if you should expect to find gold at a location.


While I found panning for gold quite fun and relaxing, children can get quite frustrated with the process. Be sure to help them understand that huge chunks of gold don't just show up and that it takes work and patience to find the gold.

Gold Panning Tools

Of course you need a pan.

Be sure to have a specimen collection bottle, tweezers or hemostats and a magnet. The magnet can be used to remove magnetite from the black sand which the gold often hides beneath. You may also want rubber gloves if panning in cold mountain water. Dish soap is used to reduce surface tension and keep the gold from being washed out of the pan. Wading or rubber boots are useful if you will be in the water for a long time.

Panning Techniques

Sink the gold!

The technique of panning for gold is to float out all of the materials that are not gold. You can see some of the techniques in the videos below. Some like swirling water around the pan to float out the lighter materials to start. Use your fingers to pull out big materials. Shaking the pan has the goal of letting the gold move to the bottom of the pan. Others like to frequently massage the materials in the pan, once again to help the gold sink to the bottom of the pan. It takes practice but good technique is necessary to keep from letting the gold escape.

Sluice Box
Sluice Box

Sluice Box

Float out unwanted materials quickly.

A sluice box uses the streams current to help float away unwanted material and leave behind the gold pieces. The user most keep on eye on how fast the current is within the box and adjust it as necessary. You also want to roll rocks up from the end of the pan to the top of the pan to remove these unwanted rocks. Do not pick up rocks from lower sections or you might cause eddies to form which might pick up and remove gold from the box. The idea is that processing with a sluice box will provide more gold in a single pan that panning directly. After processing material, remove the screens in the sluice box and pour materials into your pan.

Colorado Gold Panning Sites - Panning sites and Tours

Gold is all over the place and not very far from Denver.

Idaho Springs Colorado

Idaho Springs is just 35 minutes from Denver just off I-70. Vic's Gold panning is just North East of Idaho Springs if you go up Central City Parkway from I-70 then down Highway 119. Vic's is just south of Black Hawk on the south side of the road.

A marker2350 Riverside Drive Idaho Springs, CO 80452 -
2350 Riverside Drive Idaho Springs, CO 80452
get directions

Be Careful!

Colorado rivers and streams are running high with fast currents due to the current high temperatures. Watch your children closely if they are panning in the water.

Panning Pans

Some people prefer metal pans to plastic ones. Others prefer to use a non-black pan to make spotting the black sand, which gold hides underneath, more visible to the panner.

Gold metal detectors

Advanced metal detectors can detect gold by using advanced techniques like phase response.

Amazon has books on panning for gold

Check book review to find the best book covering how to pan for gold. Books are very useful if you cannot find a gold prospector willing to teach you. Also check out youtube videos.

Let me know if you know of other good Colorado panning sites or improvements I can make to the lens. Happy Gold Hunting.

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    • Kyecerulian profile image

      Kyecerulian 7 years ago

      Fun lens! Are there any locations where people can go as tourists to pan for gold?