Tips on Getting More Dry Placer Gold (Part 1)

(Crystalline coarse placer gold nuggets from a dry placer.)

Now I'm Really Gonna Drive You Crazy

With the advent of cooler weather many of you out there will be forsaking those river placer claims for various dry placer districts. This is as it should be, particularly if you live in the Western or Southwestern U.S. where, at times, the best of both small-scale mining worlds can be had.

Mining Equipment
Gold Concentrates
Gold Concentrators

Still, for many months now you've heard me lecture you on the "ins and outs" of getting the gold on wet claims, especially when it comes to following the dictates of stream hydrology and deposition physics. Now I'm really gonna drive you crazy by providing some dry placer gold recovery tips that, in some instances, contravene some of the rules I've been trying to pound into your head when it comes to the basics.

Dry Placers Don't Always Conform to the Rules

Now take a deep breath before you dismiss me as a whack job! I do know what I'm talking about here, believe it or not. And one rule we can dismiss right here and now is this: dry or desert placers DO NOT always conform to hydrological or depositional rules when it comes where the gold should be.

In other words, as I've alluded to elsewhere in "Bedrock Dreams," dry or desert gold placers can fool you quite readily in this regard. Since dry wash or arroyo hydraulics are based on sudden flash-flood events or other, less intense and intermittent water flows, the gold within those washes and arroyos doesn't always end up where it's supposed to be. Then again, sometimes it does.

No Guarantees Here

Therein lies the quandary of getting more gold in dry placers. Sometimes all our hard-earned small-scale mining knowledge and experience works just fine and yet, at other times, leaves us scratching our heads in terms of figuring out where the best gold values are in a given wash or arroyo.

So the purpose of this series of posts is to provide you with some basic tips for dealing with this problematic aspect of dry placers and in the process, perhaps "steer" you to the gold. There are no guarantees here, but the information I'll dispense in these posts has worked well for me in the past and it should for you too, providing you apply yourself to the effort openly and earnestly.


Here's Tip Number 1:

Don't strictly or slavishly apply wet placer principles to dry placer environments.

Sure, "fundamentals is fundamentals." But what you learned working that claim along the North Yuba River or the Middle Fork of the American this summer is not necessarily going to get you the gold at Randsburg, the King Tut placers, or the Potholes.

Mr. Rebates - Cash-Back Shopping at over 1000 Stores!

Start learning to "see" differently, to think differently, and most of all, act differently. Use your pre-existing mining knowledge as the BASIS for a new type of mining approach that combines the old with the new.

Got it? Good.

More tips on this subject will be coming your way soon. Make use of them why don't you?

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "California Gold Districts: Carson Hill/Melones"

(c) J.R. 2009

Questions? E-mail me at