Public Gold Panning Areas in Alaska: Part II
Ready to head "north to Alaska" once again? Then grab your pick, shovel, and gold pan and follow me as I walk you through my second "short list" of public gold panning and recreational mining areas in the 49th State:
Nome Beach's sands can be panned or sluiced along the beach east of town and the Fort Davis Roadhouse. This stretch of gold-bearing beach is about 2 miles in length and any placer gold recovered there is yours to keep. For the recreational miner or gold panner Nome presents a golden (pun intended!) opportunity to try your hand at working auriferous beach sands, something that doesn't happen every day for most miners. There are actually tour companies in the Nome area that can set you up, point you in the right direction, and get you working various gold-bearing locales in the area. I am not sure about the regulations governing motorized mining equipment on these beaches, so check with the locals first.
White Mountain National Recreation Area is the largest area of its kind in the entire State of Alaska. At White Mountain you can only use gold pans, rocker boxes, metal detectors, and sluice boxes since no motorized mining equipment is allowed. The area was once very rich in placer gold and still holds possibilities for those recreational miners with experience and an eye for getting the gold. The access road into White Mountain is easily accessible by just about any vehicle, including "mammoth-sized" motor homes. There are even camping locations with yes, you guessed it, outhouses available at key locations. The National Recreation Area access road begins its 5-mile course at the 57.3 mile point of the Steese Highway.
Pedro Dome is an old gold mining area near Fairbanks and is one of the smallest (about 1 acre total) public gold panning and mining access areas in the state. Please note that no motorized placer mining equipment can be used at Pedro Dome, only pans, sluices, and rockers. Also, there are no amenities or services in the area so gas up the truck and bring plenty of drinking water and food if you're planning at doing some mining at Pedro.
Peters Creek is a State-run recreational gold mining area that is located near mile marker 30 along the Petersville Road. Primitive camp sites are available all through this area and small-scale placer mining or gold panning is allowed using light equipment, including small-intake suction dredges and highbankers. Check with the appropriate State agency for dredge permits.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve contains a number of historic gold mining locations within its boundaries. Metal detecting is illegal here, but the usual gold pans and non-motorized gear can be employed. Your best bets for getting decent gold values are at Dan Creek, Nabsena, and near McCarthy.
There are many other small or out-of-the-way spots to pan or run a sluice box in Alaska other than those listed. You'd have to spend some time exploring, sampling, and talking to the locals to know just where some of those locations are. Just be careful, as always, not to claim jump, trespass, or violate State or Federal mining regulations.
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2008