Gold Prospecting in California

Gold Nugget

The California Gold Rush of 1848, which began with the discovery at Sutter’s Mill, was of course the largest gold strike in the country, and to this day California is one of the richest gold producing states in the nation.

There is just too much information to fit in this small space, and we would really advise you to find an area that you want to focus on and then buy a good book on California gold prospecting so you can get the information that you need.

Here are a few general areas known to be rich in gold.


The Sierra Nevada Mountains


Mother Lode Country stretches across 150 miles north to south to the west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and is the most famous of all the gold producing areas of the state. Within it lies much of Tuolumne, Amador, Placer, Calaveras, Nevada, El Dorado and Mariposa Counties.

The Feather River, American River and Yuba River are the most significant river drainages. Near Coloma was the original discovery and this area has been yielding gold since that time.

Even though the drainages have been heavily prospected over the years, the placer deposits are refreshed every year by the high water. Probably all the waters of the Mother Lode country will be profitable for the recreational prospector.

Also Read: How Placer Gold is Deposited in Creeks and Rivers


The Northern Goldfields


The Northern California goldfield is another extremely profitable area in which to prospect, and it covers a good share of Trinity, Siskiyou and Shasta Counties. In 1851 nuggets were found and the prospectors flooded in.

The Sacramento River and Klamath Rivers, and the drainages produce a vast amount of placer gold. In the past, hydraulic methods were used to mine this area, and this fabulous goldfield extends all the way into the southwestern part of Oregon.


Southern Desert Gold


Although the discoveries in the northern part of California overshadowed the south, gold was in fact found in Southern California by Mexican and Spanish miners even before it was discovered in the north. In the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles County, gold was recovered as well as Kern County, whose lode deposits provided over 2 million ounces, as well as some placer gold.

There are many mines in San Bernardino County, and the Silver Mountain, Stedman, Holcomb and Dale districts were all profitable.

This is an extremely dry and hot area so mining has been limited to dry placers. Riverside, San Diego and Imperial Counties in the far south have all been gold producing.

Also Read: Metal Detecting for Gold Nuggets in Arizona


Current Mining Climate in California


Although California is a state that produces a tremendous amount of minerals, mining regulations and restrictions in place at this time has really impacted the mining industry now.

There is still great potential for the recreational prospector, and you would be well advised to check out all the rules and regs before you begin and definitely consider doing some more research on your own to find out which areas are the richest and which suit you best.

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