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.


First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.

Nature Farming

Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.

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. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.

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