This information is based on that found in our gold/gem map folios. If you would like some of these folios for your own, CLICK HERE.

Take care of yourself. Wear the right clothing. Use the right tools. Watch for snakes and other environmental hazards. DON'T GO INTO ABANDONED MINES AND DON'T WORK ABOVE ANOTHER PROSPECTOR! BOTH ACTIONS ARE DANGEROUS!

PANNING FOR GOLD: Any kind of flat pan will do but the best is the regular pan you can buy at local shops.

  • Fill the pan with sand and small gravel.
  • Fill with water and mix thoroughly.
  • Rotate the pan in a fast circular motion to settle the gold.
  • While keeping the pan level and continuing the circular motion, slightly tip the pan to get the lighter material to the top.
  • Take your thumb and scrape the lighter and larger pieces out of the pan.
  • Repeat the process over and over until only a small part of the pan is covered with concentrate.
  • Leave just enough water to feather the tailings as you lightly swirl the material.
  • The heavier material (gold) will be at the tail of the feather.


PRIVATE: Most land in the Eastern United States is in private hands. In order to gain access to those private lands whose owners still allow some use, you MUST obtain written permission from the landowner. In order for you and others to go back to those areas, please use good housekeeping rules and clean up after yourself. In panning for gold, do not muddy up the waters or undercut stream banks.

STATE: Most states will not give permission for prospecting of any kind on state lands. Solution: inquire from proper authorities before proceeding.

FEDERAL: Panning is allowed in national forests so long as no machinery is used or there is no environmental damage. It always pays to be sure: contact the park warden for details effecting recreational gold or gem prospecting.


Decide where you're going. Call or write ahead to see if conditions as indicated on your map are still the same. You will have to work harder these days to get what you're after. Don't expect huge commercial finds. Always let others know where you're going to prospect. It's best to go with someone else.

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