There is a surprising amount of gold in Washington. In fact, this state has been producing gold for over 150 years now.
Western Washington Gold
Recreational gold prospectors are likely to have the most success in several different creeks and rivers within the Cascade Mountains that divides the state from north to south. Most of the best placer gold sources are within this area and within a few hours of the major population centers of Seattle, Tacoma and the Puget Sound.
The Skagit River has some fine gold deposits that you can find by gold panning.
There is actually very fine textured gold and even platinum particles that can be recovered from the beach sands all throughout Washington. Even the beaches in Puget Sound have tiny gold particles that can be recovered. However, very careful and specialized prospecting techniques are needed to capture this gold.
There are several lode mines in King County, Snohomish County, and Pierce County. Some placer gold can also be panned from the creeks.
Eastern Washington Gold
East of the Cascade Mountains are quite a few gold mining areas also.
One of the richest mining areas in all of Washington is at the town of Liberty. There has been an amazing amount of gold found here. It is located in the mountains north of Ellensburg.
The Liberty area is quite amazing because not only is it rich with gold, but it also has produced some fascinating pieces of crystalline gold and also some very large gold nuggets. Nuggets weighing several pounds have been found here.
Chelan County is actually one of the richest gold-bearing counties in the state of Washington, with many rich mines. Nearly all of the gold comes from hard rock mining operations. There is still gold being mined here and the area is very rich.
The Columbia River, which is the largest river in Washington, also has a surprising amount of gold. Nearly all of it is fine-textured and challenging to mine but it is abundant throughout the river. During the 1800s there were hundreds of miners working the sand bars of the Columbia River mining for gold.