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Gold Prospecting

Alaska offers visitors a wide variety of activities to do during their trip. Some are unique to Alaska and other activities are best experienced in Alaska. Whether it be shopping for native Alaskan crafts, riding in a dog sled, fishing for halibut, or panning for gold, Alaska will satisfy even the most selective travelers needs for unique and wonderful experiences. A common problem most visitors to Alaska face is not finding something to do during their vacation but rather selecting which of the many options they have available to them do partake in during their Alaska Vacation. We have selected the most popular activities for people coming to Alaska, but this list in far from being definitive. This site is constantly growing and we will add more things to do on your Alaska vacation as time allows. Where appropriate we list approximate prices and time required for the activity. Some of the activities and excursions listed here can be easily done with no prior planning or preparation. Others might require a reservation made months in advance, training, and specialized gear. Whatever the case we will let you so that you can make the most of your Alaska Vacation.

Gold Prospecting

To many people, gold prospecting is synonymous with Alaska and something they would like to “try their hand at” during a visit to Alaska. No matter if you want to a one-hour lesson in gold panning, spend a day working gold-bearing gravel, or strike out on your own — you’ll find what you need in Alaska to start your gold prospecting adventure. To get started you only need an inexpensive gold pan, some knowledge of where to go, and the desire to find gold in Alaska.

Where to Find Gold in Alaska

Bachelor Creek: Is 80 miles North of Fairbanks just past Montana Creek on the Steese Highway. There is a 4WD road that begins at the Dept of Transportation yard and goes around the fenced area. The 4WD road not suitable for motor homes or most cars and you will go approximately 4 miles before reaching the mining area of the creek. No facilities are available at the site. The area is open to gold panning, sluice boxes, rocker boxes, metal detectors, and small suction dredges up to 6″.

Caribou Creek in the Matanuska River Area (State Property): Access road located at mile 104 on the Glenn Highway. Turn onto 800ft long road at the 4’x5′ billboard to the parking area. Pans, sluices, detectors, and dredges. In 1991, the Alaska State Legislature created the Caribou Creek Recreational Mining Area. Map and Information on Caribou Creek

Chugach (National Forest): Located Between Hope and Seward. Almost all active creeks, streams, and rivers are open to pans, sluices, & dredges (4″). The Alaska Mining Association has written a new guide for the area. Chugach Gold Mining Locations

Dalton Highway: Area on the “Haul Road” between Fairbanks/Prudhoe Bay. You can use: pan, pick, shovel, sluice box, rocker, or metal detector. You can pan on any Federal stream segments along the Dalton highway south of Atigun Pass (mile 244) but no panning in the pipeline right-of-way (27 feet on either side of the pipeline) and no panning on Federal mining claims without the permission of the claimant. Dalton Highway Map

Eagle, AK (City and State Property): Along American Creek & S. of Eagle, Fortymile Creek along the Taylor highway, and the many tributaries feeding the drainages. This is the original Jack London country and home to one of the original gold strikes in Alaska.

Hatcher Pass Recreational Mining Area is Located approximately 15 miles northeast of Wasilla off of Palmer-Fishook Road, with recreational mining allowed along the Little Susitna River and tributaries and also with the Independence Mine State Park. Gold panning, shovels, picks, and small suction dredges. Check with State Ranger on permitting requirements for small dredges. Additional Information on Hatchers Pass Recreational Mining Area

Nome Beach Gold panning along the beach in Nome, Alaska. Panning is permitted on the beach east of Nome between town and the Fort Davis Roadhouse (2 miles). There is gold in the sands and it’s yours to keep. Tour companies will also take you to various panning locales along the beach.

Nome Creek, White Mountain National Recreational Area: Is the largest area of this kind in Alaska. Gold pans, metal detectors, sluice boxes, and rocker boxes only. It has a rich history of gold production and is easily accessible even with the super size motor homes that tourists bring to Alaska. A huge road project completed in 1997 made access to this area from the Steese Highway very easy. The road begins at 57.3 mile on Steese Highway. The road is approximately 5 miles long from the Steese Highway to the Nome Creek mining area. Restrooms (outhouses) available and camping areas too. The Steese Highway is paved only to mile 44.

Pedro Dome: Is the oldest such area in the Fairbanks area. The area is the general location where Gold was first discovered in the Fairbanks area by Felix Pedro on July 22, 1902. This is the strike that put Fairbanks on the map. Small area, approximately 1 acre in size open to gold pans, metal detectors, sluice boxes and rocker boxes. There are no facilities such as restrooms, drinking water or food vendors in the area.

Peters Creek: State of Alaska managed recreational mining area, located at approximately mile 30 of the Petersville Road. Recreational gold panning, mineral prospecting, or mining using light portable field equipment are allowed without any permit. Also, you can obtain a permit from the DNR to use a small suction dredge. Primitive camping is available in the area. Map and information on Peters Creek Recreational Mining Area

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve Mineral collection and gold panning are allowed within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The use of metal detectors is illegal. Numerous historic mining locations on public land can be panned for gold and other minerals. In general, the Dan Creek area, Nabsena, and McCarthy vicinity are the best areas to prospect.

And there are numerous other spots to pan for gold during a trip to Alaska. You might find a new spot or discover an old one just by panning for color when you stop along the highway. In addition to these public access areas for gold mining in Alaska, the state also offers a seemingly unlimited selection of commercial gold panning, sluicing, and mining operations, where a tourist can learn how to pan for gold. Many local visitor offices will be able to give specific advice on their local area. Some spots are better than others. We will continue to add to this list of “Where to pan for gold in Alaska”. Good Luck.