Get More Gold by Getting Off the Beaten Path

What's the Beaten Path?

Although I've touched on this subject peripherally in other posts in Bedrock Dreams, this time I am aiming directly at the heart of the matter. Want to get more placer gold out there? Then start by getting off the beaten path. Simple, isn't it?

What do I mean by the beaten path? I mean all those public panning and dredging areas (what few there are left these days, that is), those easily accessed prospecting club claims, open mining areas along highways or near towns, or any other mining location that draws crowds at the appropriate time of year.

I know this is painful for some of you to read or hear. We, being creatures of habit (and often lazy at times) like being able to pull off a state highway along some gold-bearing stream or taking a leisurely drive to a desert drywashing site directly via a well-maintained surfaced or hard-packed road and then getting down to business. The problem is, though fun, these venues don't offer the best gold recovery opportunities.

Where to Go?

I'm reminded here of a few (liberally paraphrased) lines from my favorite adventure/treasure/prospecting movie of all time, "Treasure of the Sierra Madre." There's a scene in the film where the grizzled old prospector (Walter Huston) is queried by his novice gold mining "pards" (Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt) about where they must go to find the gold. "Far away from roads and railroads and the prying eyes of mining engineers. We must go where others have never been or are afraid to go."

A bit extreme perhaps, but you get the idea I'm sure (and while you're at it, if you've never seen "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and you're a gold miner or treasure hunter, shame on you!). Your very next question is, understandably, "where do I go then?" Here are a few possibilities to consider:

Wilderness Areas: these can be open gold-bearing areas in the mountains, the Outback, desert regions, jungles, or other remote locations here in the Lower 48, Alaska, or scattered elsewhere throughout the world. Granted, most of us are not going leave our native country to mine gold, but always keep your options open. Wilderness areas are typically defined as very remote, hard-to-reach (you must pack or hike in, or reach them by boat or aircraft), near-pristine environments that the crowds of timid souls and gold mining "wannabes" avoid like the plague for obvious reasons.

Remote Gold Claims: working your own claim (or someone else's by lease or by permission) in more remote and difficult to access locales can provide good gold-getting opportunities for the hearty of mind, body, and spirit. And no, I am not talking here about some desert claim off the highway near Randsburg or even on the North Yuba River (and I love the N. Yuba) along Highway 49 here. The keywords here are "remote" and "difficult to access."

(Note on Safety: the two options above are not meant to be tackled alone. Using the "buddy system" while working remote gold locations is an absolute must, no matter where those locations are. As I've said before, no amount of gold is worth your life. So use common sense out there my friend.)

Areas That Others Have Missed: finding these sorts of locations is going to take a lot of research on your part, poring over historical mining records, reading first-hand accounts by oldtimers, examining and comparing old and new maps, and going over mining archives with a fine-tooth comb. The end result? The possibility of finding a gold-bearing site or small placer area that others missed or that was "bypassed" because, for many oldtimers, the "grass was always greener on the other side of the hill."

Pay-As-You-Go Mining "Adventures:" If you have a bit more money to spend on your mining endeavors you may want to try one of these. They are privately owned or claimed locations in places like Ganes Creek, Crow Creek, and Chicken Alaska (to name three) where you pay a fee to mine and nugget shoot. Most of these mining "adventure" sites outside the continental United States are in pretty remote locales and nearly all present excellent gold potential, including the recovery of some large placer gold nuggets using metal detectors.

Obviously, I am only scratching the surface here. By using your own knowledge, intuition, and imagination you can probably come up with more potential "getting off the beaten path" gold mining locations. So what are you waiting for?

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2008