Gold Prospecting in Montana

Gold Nuggets from Montana

Montana is the 7th largest producer of gold in the country, and most of the gold districts in the state are in the west near the Idaho border. Idaho itself is ranked 9th. The western part of the state is a rugged mountainous area along the Continental Divide, and is much richer than the remaining part of the state which is primarily flat prairie land.


Montana’s Big Gold Rushes


Although gold was discovered in 1852, it wasn’t until 1862 when the Grasshopper Creek strike brought in the prospectors by the thousands. West of Dillon the town of Bannack sprang up and the entire area was placer mined. In Alder Gulch at Virginia City, very large gold deposits were located the following year. The Rivers and Creeks near Virginia City and Bannack are still a good bet for the gold panner.

The sites on federal land that are open to prospectors are far too numerous to mention. Montana has produced thousands of ounces of gold every year for over 150 years. If you’re going to prospect in Montana search out the rich gold bearing creeks and old mining sites.

Following are just a very few examples of areas where you will probably have some luck:

Near Butte, Montana at the headwaters of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River there has been significant copper mining, and gold production is a byproduct. Weighing over 25 ounces, the Highland Centennial Nugget was found close to Butte.

Gold Prospecting in Montana

The Highland Centennial Nugget is on display at the Mining College in Butte. It weighs over 2 pounds.

The site of the Last Chance Gulch gold strike, along the Missouri River near Helena.

West of Anaconda, lode deposits were located in the Georgetown District.

One of the richest placers ever in the history of the state is Confederate Gulch between Helena and Townsend, east of the Missouri River. Some miners were finding over $1000 in one pan. Boulder Creek, Montana Gulch, Cement Gulch and Montana Bar had lucrative hydraulic operations.

Silver Creek in the Ottawa District initially had very rich placer deposits, and there have also been many lodes located there that were found later on.

North of Yellowstone National Park is the Jardine District, with hardrock deposits and also some placer gold.

The creeks in the Radersburg of the Elkhorn Mountains provide some good placer opportunities.

Also Read: Explore Historic Mining Site to Find Gold

There is some gold in the central part of the state in the Kindall and North Moccasin Districts, but most of the gold found is primarily low grade ores.

There is bound to be a lot of gold left in Montana. Some pretty big nuggets have been found, so metal detecting would be a worthwhile approach. You can sluice, pan or dredge with success if you find the right spot, and as mentioned, a lot of the public land is open to you. Just remember to respect claims, and be sure to get the proper permission before you start.

Next: Gold Prospecting in Idaho

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