As many professional and recreational prospectors know, one of the best places for gold panning around the world is Alaska. Known for its rugged terrain and vast wilderness, Alaska offers a rich landscape in which to find gold. Shows like Discovery Channel's Gold Rush, which features the mining of gold placer deposits found in the Alaska and the Yukon, feature the struggles that professionals experience in their pursuit of gold.
Finding gold is not necessarily easy. You can't just pan anywhere. Prospecting is allowed on only certain pieces of land. Private and public lands are designated for gold panning, and the cost ranges from free to $50. Here are some of the most popular spots to go to find the shiny stuff, at a low cost:
- Fairbanks, AK. Home to some of the most famous mining attractions in the state, Fairbanks has a range of locations for gold panning. Just north of Fairbanks, the country side is dotted with hundreds of small backyard gold mining operations and thousands of gold mining claims notices. Though you can't pan without permission on claims, places like the Gold Daughters offer great gold panning tours and pay dirt for sale!
Hope, AK. Located in the Kenai Peninsula, Hope is a small town of about 200 people. You can do a demonstration-based gold tour at Indian Valley Mine a few miles south of Anchorage, then continue another hour onto Hope where you can pan in Resurrection Creek. See Safety Tips for Gold Panning on the Kenai and Kenai's Mining History.
- Girdwood, AK. This resort town is home to Crow Creek Mine, a place to learn all about gold mining and find some gold!
- Juneau, AK. The capital city of Alaska, Juneau has a rich history that involves gold. There are some very popular gold panning tours, including the Historic Gold Mining and Panning Adventure, as well as the Gold Creek Salmon Bake.
As many of you know, it's very important to get the right gear before panning. Though many people invest in dredges and heavier equipment, all you need to have a good time is a Gold Rush Nugget Bucket. Cheers and happy panning!