Panning for Gold in the Rockies

One of Rob’s lifelong dreams, panning for gold in the Rockies, has been fulfilled.

After finding out how relatively affordable such a thing can be, we bought mining rights to a small claim, sight unseen except for photos, in the Rocky Mountains.

This week, we’ve been out here in the mountains getting our first look at the property and trying our hands at panning for gold. I was afraid we might have been ripped off. I was ecstatic to find that we had not. All was exactly as described in the listing. It’s accessible and beautiful!

Heading for the Hills

On Tuesday we headed out from Breckenridge to see what was what.

The roads to get there are unbelievably curvy. I thought the Ozarks had curvy, hilly roads!
The roads to get there are unbelievably curvy. I thought the Ozarks had curvy, hilly roads!

Our “mine” isn’t the kind that has shafts or machinery, it’s a “placer mine” which means the owner of the claim can pan or use sluices up to a certain measurement to find gold dust, flakes, or nuggets. We don’t own the land – it’s BLM property. But we have the rights to go there anytime we want and look for gold. And on that particular acreage, those rights are exclusive.

One of the creeks where we are panning for gold in the Rockies!
One of the creeks on the claim. This one is moving a bit too fast for easy panning…

Gold Fever?

So we’re not thinking we’re going to strike it rich with gold. This is just for fun, and we’ve been having loads of that. Rob’s son’s family flew in from Florida to join us for vacation. We panned all day yesterday.

Rob doing the first test pan.
Rob doing the first test pan while Tina, Chris, and Nickolas watch.

Let me tell you, it’s not as easy to do as the videos make it look.

Me trying my hand at panning for gold in the Rockies.
My turn 🙂

But the excitement that makes a heart beat quicker when you think you’ve spotted gold in your pan is awesome and I can see how it easily can be addictive.

Whoa! What-is-that?!
Whoa! What-is-that?!
Is it gold? I don't know but it sure looks promising!!
Is it gold? I don’t know but it sure looks promising!!

Once I found what might or might not be gold, everyone went back to work, harder than ever.

Heads down, hard at work. Chris panning.
Heads down, hard at work. Chris panning.
Rob hard at work.
Rob hard at work.
Nickolas was bored after a while and decided he didn't like panning so much.
Nickolas had fun, but in the end decided he didn’t like panning so much.

Practice Makes Perfect

I’m not good enough yet at the panning to risk losing what little bit of gold I might have found, so I put it all (the fine black sand with the gold dust and flakes) in a little vial to bring home and work on in a more controlled environment.

Even if it turns out to be mica or fool’s gold, I had a blast and will look forward to working our claim whenever we can find the means to get up here. We’ll be camping the next time we come, so that will add a new dimension of adventure to the trip.

If you like to camp, try RoverPass to find campgrounds in the Breckenridge area.


About Wild Ozark
Wild Ozark is a nature farm. Mostly we grow rocks. I use those rocks and some of the herbs to make earth pigments and watercolor paints. We also grow native clay that I use for paint and various other things. And then there are the trees. We grow lots of trees. My husband uses some for his woodworking and some for our Burnt Kettle Shagbark Hickory Syrup, but for the most part they stand around creating good air, shade, & habitat for the ginseng nursery.

Follow me on Instagram to keep up with paints, art, and random nature pictures I make in real time.

My art and paints are available on Etsy! But if you're interested in owning a Madison Woods original, follow me on Instagram or FB because sometimes they go out the door as soon as I make the final post to say they're done.

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About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. You can find my art on display and for sale at the Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas. It's a tiny little town and a bit off the path to anywhere at all, but a wonderful ride out to a most beautiful part of our state. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making arts & crafty things, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.

Published by Madison Woods

Madison Woods is a Nature Artist & Fantasy Author living in the wild Ozark hills of northwest Arkansas. She uses native rocks, clay, and botanicals to create works of art to capture the magic of nature. Her writing reflects her love of adventure in the rural outback.

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