The best places to pan for gold

Gold panning is still going on, but where?

Not in France, anyway. At least, it’s not the spot where gold experts go.

We’ve all fantasized about becoming rich, no matter whether it happened by winning the lottery or finding a wad of cash on the floor. The idea of becoming rich without too much effort often crosses our minds. For your next trip, why not give it a try? In every corner of the globe, you can try your luck at panning for gold. Who knows, you might just unearth a nugget!

Jamestown, California

Orpaillage Jamestown

Flickr – Elton Lin

California has been the leading destination for gold seekers since 1848, for a period of 8 years, known as the « Gold Rush ». More than 300,000 adventurers, Americans and foreigners alike, visited the region. If you’re looking for your first experience in the art of gold panning, you can head to Jamestown, where Jamestown Gold Panning offers tours, equipment and wisdom on how best to find gold. If the history of the area appeals to you, you might even find something – you never know…

Crow Creek Historic Gold Mine, Alaska

Orpaillage Crow Creek

Flickr – RocksInMyHead

When we think of Alaska, we imagine tundra, grizzly bears and glacial landscapes. But you can also add glittering gold to the list. Established in 1896, Crow Creek Mine is the perfect place to indulge your gold-digging passion. Two guides will take you to the most promising spots, while teaching you advanced techniques such as gold panning with sluice boxes.

Bendigo, Australia

Orpaillage Bendigo

Flickr – Tim Gillin

Outside Bendigo, in the southern Australian state of Victoria, Mark and Ronda Hyde put their experience to good use in the search for gold. Here, the emphasis is less on river panning and more on digging for gold. In the past, the red earth has transformed some nuggets to incredible proportions, so you may have the opportunity to find a life-changing specimen on your next Australian getaway.

Dawson City, Canada

Orpaillage Dawson City

Flickr – Nick Ares

On the banks of the Yukon River, Dawson City lies in the remote mountainous region of northwestern Canada, close to the Alaskan border. The remote location has been a destination for hopeful prospectors since the gold rush of the 19th century, when a gold mine was commissioned in Dawson City in 1898. If you’re looking for an insight into the real life of a gold miner, you can contact Gold Bottom, which offers mine tours, gold panning lessons, and even a small cabin if you’re up for a multi-day excursion.

Lanarkshire, Scotland

Lanarkshire orpaillage

Flickr – Nick Ares

The south of Scotland has long attracted those with cases of gold fever (the precious metal was discovered in the region during the reign of James IV of Scotland in the 16th century), with its many streams and rivers regularly discharging some sparkling treasure. In Lanarkshire, the Museum of Lead Mining, despite its name, is also a popular choice for those looking to hone their gold panning skills. Five-hour courses are available in spring and summer.

Bonus: panning for gold in France

There are apparently many rivers in France, as this Wikipedia page shows. I’m no expert, but if there was a lot of gold to be found in France, a lot of people would already know about it, wouldn’t they?

Do you know of any good spots for gold prospecting in the rest of the world?