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I love Gold panning in Idaho

Updated on July 31, 2014
ArtByLinda profile image

The author is an amateur artist and photographer that loves to travel with her husband of 37 years.

I find no better place to pan for gold than Beautiful Idaho

I think that there is something about the sparkling clean rivers of Idaho, the fresh air, the wildlife that makes me want to spend as much time outdoors enjoying the beauty of Idaho.

Gold panning is a great way to explore Idaho's beautiful mountains and rivers. Any sport that gets you outdoors will truly bring happiness and adventure to your life.

The reason that I love to pan for gold in Idaho is that even if you don't find one tiny little nugget or flake of gold, you have spent the day outdoors in one gorgeous part of the country.

If you are coming to visit Idaho bring your pan with you!

The History of Gold Mining in Idaho

Reference: The Idaho Mining Association

According to the Idaho Mining Association gold was discovered by 10 prospectors that Captain E.D. Pierce led on their search for it and other minerals. They entered the Nez Perce Indian territory. The credit for the actual discovery is given to Wilbur Bassett, one of this group of men. He found nuggets! They always talk about the California Gold rush, but many people migrated west because the word spread of the discovery of that precious mineral in Idaho.

Where can I pan for Gold in Idaho?

Is it legal to pan for gold anywhere in Idaho?

According to the Idaho Department of Lands, they say:

As long as you are only using a gold pan for recreational panning, you can pan any public land (not private or Indian reservation) that are under the control of the State.

So follow these rules:

1. Check who owns property, if it is private land get the owners permission first.

If it is public land, check with BLM for any mining or prospecting claims first. If it is federal land, contact the Bureau of Land Management or the US Forest Service. If it is owned by the state, contact the Idaho Department of Lands.

It is kind of the same rules that hunters use in Idaho. Check the laws, follow the laws. Stay on public ground. Know where you are. Ask first, always before going onto or hunting on someone else's property.


Where is the best place to find gold in Idaho?

Where is the best place to find gold in Idaho?

Gold can be found in many different streams and rivers throughout Idaho.

It has been said, that there have been over ten million troy ounces of Gold recovered in Idaho to this date.

If your looking for "placer deposits" full of gold, the Boise Basin northeast of Boise is a great place to look, as well as the Salmon, Clearwater rivers and all their smaller rivers that run into them. They always say to look for Black Sand when looking for places to pan for gold.

I actually panned the little Salmon when I was a teen staying with my sister and her husband. I just remember finding a few little specks of gold, but it was a lot of fun. At the time I had more interest in trout fishing.

The Snake River has some really fine gold, tiny little pieces often called flour gold, probably because it has to be sifted out.

The best counties to look for it in are; Ada, Adams, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonneville, Camas, Clearwater, Custer, Elmore, Idaho, Kootenai, Letah, Lemhi, Nez Perce, Owyhee, Power, Shoshone and Valley County.

How do I find gold in those places?

The secret to finding Gold.

From what I have learned about gold, it is very, very heavy. You want to look for Bedrock, because gold will sink below the sand and pebbles as it weighs more than they do.

Look for Black Sand, which is a good indication of Placer Deposits. Placer deposits are the natural separation of minerals by gravity during the sedimentary processes in which they formed.

Look for stains above on the rocks that are orange or yellow. This would indicate iron and copper which makes black sand.

I have always been told that where there is gold there is black sand, but where there is black sand, there is not always gold!

Once you find your spot, dig down to the bedrock and shovel that black sand into your pan. See what color you find in your gold pan.

Gold panning tricks

This video shows some gold panning tricks, for those that are still learning.

The Tools you will need to Pan for Gold

First you will need the following equipment:

1. A Gold Pan

2. A bottle to put the gold in (usually any tiny perfume or other bottle will do)

3. A shovel

4. A bucket

5. Tweezers

6. A pick

7. tiny bottle of dish soap

Learning to Pan for Gold North Central Idaho Clearwater River

Gold on eBay - No luck panning on your own

Find it on eBay, but as always when buying anything there, use due diligence to make sure the seller is legit with good reviews.

Thanks for being my guest, please etch your message in the gold here!


The Golden Guestbook

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    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      Great info lens, I just add your lend on my lens "Ghost-Town-Body"

    • GoldenRod LM profile image

      John R Wilsdon 4 years ago from Superior, Arizona USA

      I love to pan for gold too. Enjoyed your article and I find that the comments from other enthusiasts are full of info also. I used the running mine claims info below. Nice site.

    • CashBlog LM profile image

      CashBlog LM 4 years ago

      Sounds like a lot of fun, I might have to schedule a trip sometime. :D

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      I was in Idaho and Wyoming two months ago, but forgot to bring my pan, bucket and shovel! I love the rivers and waterfalls around there.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I remember panning for gold in the North Carolina mountains and it was great fun. I found a ruby nugget that I still have. I felt like it was planted there but didn't care because I had such a wonderful time. I have never been to Idaho but if I get there I would want to go Gold panning, for sure.

    • profile image

      BarbsSpot 5 years ago

      @Lensmaster...Have never panned in this part of the country (O-hi-o!), but you make the adventure look exciting!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Those are lovely nuggets for sale on eBay! I do some prospecting in the Klamath River Valley, and hope to do this in Idaho too.

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 5 years ago

      I am going to go to Idaho now!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @MartieG: I went to themal city over by merion it was neat

    • uneasywriter lm profile image

      uneasywriter lm 5 years ago

      I use most of these tools on my family claim. I recently got a "Blue Bowl" for fine gold recovery and it works great! You may want to check it out and add it to this lens. Good lens!

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 5 years ago

      We tried this once in Georgia. It was a lot of fun

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is even cooler than when a was here some while back, I love how your tools of the trade now present and am sprinkling some fresh angel dust among the gold. :)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      This would be so fun to do. Blessed!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA


    • BuyAndStoreGold profile image

      BuyAndStoreGold 5 years ago

      Great web page, I love gold and I love Idaho. Panned once for a few minutes in New Mexico but no joy...

    • Carashops profile image

      Cara 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I enjoyed reading it.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      Great lens! We have gold here in Limousin, France. I'm going to make sure that I go panning for gold this year - your lens has really inspired me to find out more about it. Thanks.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a romantic idea. Not something I will ever do s I live in Britain. Perhaps you will start another gold rush. Blessed.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 5 years ago

      Used to pan for gold at Hell's Gate on the Fraser River

    • profile image

      BradKamer 5 years ago

      A fun and creative lens. I love the outdoors and panning for minerals in the sluice boxes in Illinois and Wisconsin; unfortunately not much pay dirt here. What a great way to spend a day outdoors with friends. Nice work.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

      What fun! many years ago I had the fortune to visit with gold prospectors on Tierra del Fuego in South America, and they used pretty much the same methods!

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      We went panning in North Carolina and I can see how you can catch gold fever-would love to travel around and try this - nice lens :>)

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 5 years ago from Idaho

      @anonymous: I hear you there, being outdoors near a stream or it!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 5 years ago from Idaho

      @montanatravel52: Thank you for your wonderful comments, Montana is beautiful too!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 5 years ago from Idaho

      @anonymous: I bet your kids loved it too. I love it because it gets you outdoors. Finding a little color in your pan tops it off!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Information about where exactly you can or can't pan is vague. I know here in Idaho should you transgress onto a claim by accident you may be in trouble. I wish there was more information on legal area's.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 5 years ago from Idaho

      @ArtByLinda: This is the link to Run reports to find mining claims on BLM ground for any state.

      You can modify it to search by State, by County, etc.

      And this is a tutorial they have if you need it:

      Tutorial on how to run mining claims reports on the BLM website.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 5 years ago from Idaho

      @anonymous: You may have missed this section:

      If you plan on using a Gold pan, you can pan just about anywhere as long as you are not trespassing. You can pan for gold in the beds of navigable rivers and streams, which are under the control of the State of Idaho, if no one has filed an exploration location or mineral lease on your area of interest. If you want to prospect in a small river or stream, be sure to check the ownership of the property. If the creek is privately owned you may be able to obtain permission from the landowner, and if it is within public land administered by the US Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, check with the BLM for any mining claims which may have been filed.

      The trick is, when you plan a trip, research the area that you would like to pan in and check for any claims. This is a link to the Idaho BLM reports page, where you can modify your own search for mining claims.

      Additionally you should always watch for private property signs and claim postings.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My Kids and I panned gold in the mountains of North Carolina it was fun!

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 5 years ago

      What a nice tribute to Idaho. I admit I am biased because I was born and raised in Montana, so I have been on a couple of trips panning gold as a kid, and loved it. Great idea. Thanks for a fun read!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Before I retired I lived in the mountains of Colorado - right in the middle of the 'gold belt'. I spent many weekends squatting next to a stream panning. Never found much, but just being out in the mountains was my treasure. Thanks for the great lens.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 5 years ago from Idaho

      @Ilonagarden: I know, me too. Somehow you know your not going to get rich, but you are still outdoors and finding that bit of gold in your pan feels like finding buried treasure!

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 5 years ago from Ohio

      I always thought it would be fun to try panning for gold.

    • xXOUTDOORSXx profile image

      xXOUTDOORSXx 5 years ago

      Ive always wanted to try this!

    • profile image

      ElizabethOSP 5 years ago

      Cool lense!!! My hubbie did quite a bit of mining and sluicing in his college days. You've got excellent information here!

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      must be a fun thing to do.

    • rachelscott profile image

      rachelscott 6 years ago

      I love to spend time on great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      If anyone will be in or near Boise, Idaho, the weekend of May 5th and 6th, the GPAA (Gold Prospectors Association Of America) is hosting a gold show! Come on down and check it out!

    • profile image

      AskLou1 6 years ago

      What a great lens! Thank you for sharing all of this information! I will give it a try this summer!!

    • profile image

      moonlitta 6 years ago

      A wealth of information about gold panning here! Admirable work!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      Well, I could seriously use a little extra cash to pay for a new roof. How about we both pan for a little [or lot] of gold in Idaho? Then we can work on the patio paver project.

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 6 years ago

      Great lens with excellent pictures. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tradeshowhobo profile image

      Tradeshowhobo 6 years ago

      Next time I get back to Idaho, this is definitely on the list.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      Panning for gold sounds like soooo much fun!!!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Used to go gold panning with the family once but got put off by the lack of success, sore backs and physical effort. You are obviously into it in a professional way and your results are great to see. Blessed and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs

    • baseballbrains lm profile image

      baseballbrains lm 6 years ago

      Great lens, I've always wanted to try this!

    • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

      SecondHandJoe LM 6 years ago

      Definitely on my bucket list!! I really enjoyed this lens and was tempted to by a few pounds of gold sand from your e-bay module! Thanks, I 'liked' it.

    • MillBucks profile image

      MillBucks 6 years ago

      Very interesting lens! Enjoyed reading through this informative information, thanks for posting.

    • profile image

      Serj 6 years ago

      I live in Boise and didn't realize that I could do some panning for gold in "my backyard". Very Informative lens. If there's one thing you might be able to add is a section about fools gold, because as far as I know there's a lot of that stuff in our rivers too. Thanks.

    • ViJuvenate profile image

      ViJuvenate 6 years ago

      I've never actually panned for gold. Seems like it would be fun... for a few minutes. Unless I hit some pay dirt, anyhow. LOL Still some gold in them thar hills!

    • wolfie10 profile image

      wolfie10 6 years ago

      we go to ballarat in australia to do a bit of gold panning for fun. its fun to have a go.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I'm just south of you in Utah, maybe I'll take a weekend trip and see what I can find! Like your lens so much that I clicked the tab 'thumbs up' for you!

    • Nancy S Oram profile image

      Nancy Oram 6 years ago

      Years ago I wondered if my twin boys were borderline ADD until we discovered gold panning here in California. They could patiently pan for hours on end without wanting to stop for lunch -- until it was too dark to see.

    • IWS LM profile image

      IWS LM 6 years ago

      I live in Idaho, and so it is very interesting for me, thank you for fantastic info.

      Great lense, 5*s

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      really interesting. Looks like a lot of fun

    • Steve Dizmon profile image

      Steve Dizmon 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Fascinating lens. I have wanted to try panning for gold since reading Western Novels as a child. Even though there are a few places to try here in the SE, I've never done so. Reading your lens has again fired that desire. Just to try would be fun.

    • SilmarwenLinwelin profile image

      SilmarwenLinwelin 6 years ago

      I live too far away from those "golden" sites, but I would definitely like to try finding some gold!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 6 years ago

      That looks like something I would like to try.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      A most interesting lens - amazing to learn so many things I didn't know about panning for gold!

    • cbessa profile image

      cbessa 6 years ago

      Hello, Linda.

      Just publish a review of this lens on my Top 5 lenses from my Squidoo Neighbours lens!

      I would really appreciated to get your feedback on it. Hope you like it.


    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Now this is so cool! I've always thought it might be fun to go panning for gold, must be all the westerns I watched growing up. Didn't know about gold in Idaho....what a lucky find and may there be much more to come. Very well done with so many facts and points of interest.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      I would love to do this just once, and loved reading about it here. Nice work on this page!

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 6 years ago

      thanks for visiting my lens also. i appreicate it very much. your lenses are highly-intellectual and mine are just light-hearted stuff.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 6 years ago

      thanks for this great lens. didn't know that there is AU in Idaho. i thought only potatoes grow there. oh, that's why the potatoes are golden when fried.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Excellent lens! I did go gold panning once (in Arizona, though, not Idaho) and actually found some small bits of it. Actually, it filled part of a small vial. That gold ended up in a wedding ring my husband made for a friend of his. Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed your lens. *Blessed*

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 7 years ago

      Awesome lens. A very well deserved Purple Star.

    • profile image

      wheelbound 7 years ago

      Wonderful post about Idaho gold mining. I live in Boise. Its nice to see another squidooer writing about Idaho. Most just think we only have potatoes haha.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wow, that was really great, you were lucky enough to strike gold. These days , I don't even think that there are are mines where you can dig gold and diamonds, I thought it was all excavated and over.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 7 years ago

      I'd love to do this!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 7 years ago from Colorado

      Who doesn't enjoy the fantasy of striking it rich? :-) I first tried panning for gold in Alaska. Now that I live in Colorado, it's the perfect time and place to try my hand at this again. Recently made a trek to visit a really cool retired gold mine. It had sluice boxes for practicing your panning techniques. Fun! Enjoyed your lens.

    • profile image

      Dinostore 7 years ago

      What a unique topic! I learn something new everyday! Thumbs up and fav'd.

    • profile image

      fishingadv 7 years ago

      Really Amazing lens..... nice post,,,

      Amazon Fishing Trips

      Amazon Peacock Bass Fishing

      Peacock Bass Fishing

    • TheHealthGuy LM profile image

      TheHealthGuy LM 7 years ago from U.S.A.

      Very useful info and some cool pics too!

    • kguru1979 lm profile image

      kguru1979 lm 7 years ago

      very useful info .. thanks for sharing...!

    • kguru1979 lm profile image

      kguru1979 lm 7 years ago

      very interesting information.. thanks for sharing..!

    • profile image

      Oliversbabycarecouk 7 years ago

      great information, thanks for sharing

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      Sheilamarie 7 years ago from British Columbia

      Interesting info.

    • joanv334 profile image

      joanv334 7 years ago

      Hello, thanks for sharing!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 7 years ago

      Overwhelming amount of information, I lensroll to my "Ghost Town Bodie", 5*


    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Amazing Information, it's really true, wow........

      Peacock Bass fishing

      Fishing Adventures

    • profile image

      ideadesigns 7 years ago

      I stumbled it and I liked it! This is really informative and I love the photos. We've been watching the Gold Rush Alaska on Discovery and scrolling through your lens I find this very pleasing to the eye and very interesting.

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 7 years ago from Redcar


    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 7 years ago from US/TN

      Nice lens! Blessed.

    • Violin-Student profile image

      Violin-Student 7 years ago

      Good page. I really like this. I'd love to try panning for gold some time.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I really enjoyed your daily log entries. Panning is fun. I've done it in Georgia. Blessed by an Angel. This lens will be featured on my angel lens: "angel-on-assignment".

    • profile image

      Tarra99 7 years ago

      Cool grandfather panned for gold in Alaska...and actually found some...I'd love to pan for gold...just even for the thrill of it! ...thanks for sharing!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 8 years ago

      How neat! That would make a fun vacation. Great lens. Blessed by an Angel.

    • FarAwayJoe profile image

      FarAwayJoe 8 years ago

      Fine lens. Gold panning as vacation is advertised here in Austria in the Hohe Tauern region in Salzburg as well. Gold mining has a long tradition there (there where even some gold mines near the glacier tongues in the high alpine mountains). Though I never tried it for myself. But I guess it could be quite relaxing if you are not in for the gold :)

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 8 years ago from Idaho

      [in reply to Idaho Gold Pan Trip]

      Gold was discovered in Kootenai County in 1883-1884 on Prichard Creek, on the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River, my suggestion would be to look for areas of bedrock with black sand on top, mixed in with the sand. You may just find gold! Best of luck to you!

      heehaw, in answer to your question, I honestly do not know you would have to check with the government on that one. :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Going to Kootenai County in Idaho - where should I look for gold? Any tips??

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 9 years ago

      1 question, if we pan some gold there and manage to get some, can we bring them out of the country?

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 9 years ago

      Excellent. I'd love to try panning for gold and I find the gold-rush era of American history fascinating.

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 9 years ago

      Excellent. I'd love to try panning for gold and I find the gold-rush era of American history fascinating.

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 9 years ago

      There is some gold in the Scottish mountains, sadly not a lot of it although I do believe that some people know where to find it.

      Great lens 5*


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