Gold Panning

The Early Gold Rush Years

Alaska Gold Educational link Alaska Public Lands Link Gold Panning Booklet download

Long but excellent video on panning for good!

Equipment Needed for Gold Panning

Most gold panning is done in streams and rivers so a good pair of rubber boots with a pair of good socks to keep your feet from freezing in the cold water.

Gold pans:

Metal one made by Estwing

All gold pans will work but I prefer a metal one that is larger 14″ to give more room for the gravel and dirt to spread out.They will rust but the rust actually makes the gold stick to the pan better as with the plastic ones they are pretty slick and gold can flow over easier. Either will do.

Sniffer bottle , tweezer and various tools to pick the flakes out of the pan.



Classifiers will seperate out the large rocks.

Digging tools

A full-size pointed shovel, spade and screwdriver or thin tool for cleaning out small crevasses in the rocks.

The small white plastic pail is used for collecting concentrates. You can use just about any sort of container for that. More on why this is important later.

Five gallon buckets : You can carry your equipment in them, water in them. etc..

Gloves:Leather to protect your hands from blisters and cuts. Rubber gloves to protect them from the cold water

Warm clothes

Strike it rich in Alaska! Probably, not going to happen but, you never know till you try.

Alaska flag is made up of eight stars of gold (The big dipper) on a field of blue. Gold has and shall always be a part of Alaska. Like the veins that run through our body carrying our life blood so do veins of gold run through Alaska even today.

The gold is here but where? Well, if I could tell you where it is then I wouldn’t be sitting here typing on my computer. S0 how can I help you? Several ways, first let me tell you a few rules then where it has been found in Alaska.

One important thing to remember is to make sure you are not panning on private property without the land owners permission. Also, keep off mining claims or Alaska native village or corporations land. Always check on the status of the land with the Bureau of Land Management so you don’t get in trouble. You will have to know the exact location. Suction dredging is prohibited in many streams to protect the fish and wildlife.

You cannot mine on someone else’s mining claim without their permission but you can hike, berry pick on it as long as you don’t touch their equipment.

Some places to begin your gold panning adventure are in Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome, Chicken, and the McCarthy Area.

Here are some places you can pan in the interior:

Mile 16.5 Steese Highway: Felix Pedro’s gold discovery put Fairbanks on the map. Here you will find a monument to him. The claim here is owned by the Pioneers of Alaska and they allow public gold panning here. panning only and keep it clean. It is possible you will get a little flake gold here.

Mile 56 Steese Highway: Nome Creek turnoff to U.S. Creek road, follow it 7 miles over a ridge into a valley. Two miles of Nome Creek are open to recreational gold panning. Ophir Creek Campground is 3 miles upstream.

Steese Mile 70.5: Look out for a dirt road on the right side of the road. You should see a cross with black numbers. Go down the hill  and pan the gravel in the pit, not Chatanika River. The river isn’t considered to have very good gold prospects.

Steese Mile 80: If you are up for a long hike or 4 wheel ride try Bachelor Creek.Pickup a map before going because there are other mining claims around. There is an area that is free of private claims and it has pretty good gold prospects but it is about 6 miles back.

Dalton Highway has many creeks pass the Yukon River (north) that are open to recreational gold panners.

Types of gold:
Rough, nuggety gold is near the source.
Flat and or smooth gold has traveled a long way from its source.
Flour gold has flatten so much it will float on the surface.

Panning takes patience. If you lack patience you will be frustrated and not enjoy the process. Especially for a newbie, it takes time to pan gold. Watch that video on panning it really is the best one I have seen.

These two videos are shot in california but the information given is universal.