Prospecting – where to get started

If you’ve decided you’d like to try a hand at prospecting, getting started is fairly easy. First, it’s a good idea to find out something on the topic, before embarking on an adventure. So if you’re planning on striking it rich in gold, you might check out the library for books, or the Internet for sites on minerals and geology in general, since that impacts just where and when you may find ore that contains gold.

inukshuk stone statueUSGS – The United States Geological Survey site is an excellent resource on the Net, providing extensive online data and records, mapping, statistics by commodity and location, as well as other basic and informative material on minerals.

Gold by Location – You can also check out sites such as this one, where you’ll find an alphabetical list of states where gold is, or has been worked, as well as historical information on the area, and tips about whether the locations are open to public prospecting.

Prospector’s Clubs by Location– Excited about your hobby and want to learn more from others with the same passion for gold? Check out the nearest club in your area, where they are listed alphabetically by state. Or just enter your city/state, plus related words in one of the many Internet search engines.

Mining is a Science – Whether at the library, browsing in a bookstore or surfing the net, be sure to check out the categories that include Science/Technology/Mining.

A Gem of a Hobby – Prospecting is a hobby enjoyed by many. Make sure to include that category in any search that you are doing, and add to it related terms such as “rock and gems”.

Paper Gold? – For those who like to read, there are literally hundreds of books on the various techniques and tools for the amateur and not so amateur prospectors. Check out your local library, bookstores, and sites such as or Barnes and Noble.

Living History – If you are in an area that has a record of gold workings or strikes, talk to some of the older residents. Many of them will have prospected themselves, and may be glad to pass on their secrets and directions to worthwhile areas.

Supply Depots – To prospect, you don’t need the biggest or the newest in equipment or brand names. Use your common sense and spend a little time learning about gold and prospecting, before deciding which method you’d like to use. You’ll then be in a better position to make wise decisions about what tools and supplies you need, and which are just hyped to the eager beaver hobbyists. I personally start with a good large coffee mug and warm outfit to make sure I’ll be comfortable.

Family Fun – Prospecting is a pastime that even the younger and oldest members of a family can enjoy. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s actual panning, or sifting through a sluice while sitting down. Just getting out in the country, and scouting likely spots to start prospecting can be enjoyable. Remember to make sure, when you are going into “the wild”, to let someone know where you are headed and when you will be back. Always equip yourself properly for trips during which you’ll be camping outdoors. Learn something about outdoor survival. Many forestry departments and groups such as rock climbing clubs offer wilderness training that may come in handy. Learn how to orient yourself for a safe return home when you’re dazzled by the prospect of finding gold.

Comments 10

  1. Fiona wrote:

    Hello Jerry,
    nice article for beginners. I just want to let you know that the links in the article did not work for me. Something wrong?

    Nice day!

    Posted 01 Aug 2010 at 10:43 pm
  2. Jeff wrote:

    Great info on gold prospecting!! Like to trade links with you??

    Posted 07 Aug 2010 at 4:22 pm
  3. Max Weber wrote:

    Hi Jerry,

    Thanks for the info. I found some flakes which look like gold and bend like gold. They look like my 14k ring. They are on some black substrate and bend. But they did not conduct electricity when touched with my cheap ohm-meter. Is this a solid test? What would you do to see if its gold and I’m not a fool? :-) I heated it in the microwave for 5 minutes and did not have a sulfur odor. But maybe I need to heat over a flame? I have a gas camping stove so maybe that would

    Posted 15 Sep 2010 at 1:36 am
  4. Jerry wrote:

    Hi Max,

    sorry for the late reply. One simple test you can try is that you check if the flake is magnetic. Gold is not magnetic, so if it sticks to or pulls toward the magnet, it is not gold.

    Posted 03 Dec 2010 at 5:19 pm
  5. Mike wrote:

    I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, just for the experience if nothing else, but it would sure be fun to find some.

    Posted 09 Jan 2011 at 7:05 pm
  6. Calvin wrote:

    I will be moving to Arizona from Michigan soon, and hopefully I can pick up prospecting as a profitable hobby. I have read several places on the internet that it often costs more to prospect than you find, is this true?

    Posted 06 Feb 2011 at 11:11 am
  7. Dave wrote:

    Nice site and articles, being from the Midwest one of my greatest joys is to find gold in places others have overlooked. The best advice I received when I first started is you can never do too much research. That includes building a network of sources in the business of moving dirt. Excavation companies, well drillers etc. School them on the types of areas you’d like to sample soil from and keep in touch on the projects they are doing, like storm sewer excavation, bridge replacement and wells in old river bed areas.
    Finally if you are doing anything on private land, and that’s pretty much everywhere in the Midwest, please get permission to be there. Don’t alienate a landowner who might be thrilled to have you see if their land holds gold. (Not to say give you a mineral lease.) May all your pans be heavy.

    Posted 15 Dec 2011 at 5:05 am
  8. genny wrote:

    I’m planning a gold. Panning trip with my group next year in north caroline.. I would like a remote spot..with no kids or a lot of people..does anyone know of a spot..thank you for any help….

    Posted 21 Apr 2012 at 3:57 pm
  9. Mike wrote:

    Good Day
    I was looking to find some prospecting buds in Ontario Canada

    Posted 22 Nov 2012 at 1:38 am
  10. McStud wrote:

    Do you have chicken nuggets?

    Posted 08 Oct 2013 at 11:20 pm

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