Gold in the West: Idaho (Part 1)

I recently received this request from one of my readers, Rob S.:

"I was hoping you could do stories on counties in Idaho with gold like you have done with other states. I appreciate it and thank you for all I've learned from your website, keep up the good work. Thanks, Rob."

Well, I can't very well turn down Rob's courteous request, particularly in light of his kind words and support of my efforts here at "Bedrock Dreams." So this one's for you Rob!

Placer Gold in Idaho

Like most Western states, Idaho has seen its share of precious metal (silver and gold) production. But my focus in this post is gold, especially where to look for placer gold in the Gem State (yes, Idaho contains many gem minerals as well as both hard rock and placer locations). So let's get started:

Bingham County

Small amounts of very fine flood or "flour" gold have been recovered along the Snake River in the Blackfoot area of Bingham County. The best areas to work are the upstream ends of gravel bars and selected bench gravels.

Blaine County

Although the Bellevue area was noted mostly for its copper production, small gold placers were once worked along the Wood River and its feeder streams.

Large amounts of lode gold were mined at other locations in Blaine County, especially near Ketchum and Hailey. Small, localized placers may be found below or near these workings but I found no historical record to support my assumption here.

Boise County

The Boise Basin Region has long been noted for its extensive placer and lode gold production. At least 3,000,000 million ounces of placer gold alone were recovered in the Basin and many small-scale miners still work the auriferous gravels in the region.

The Centerville District lies pretty much in the middle of the Boise Basin and was one of the richest placer gold producers in past times. If you can find open areas to work, try Grime Creek near Placerville. It was one of the richest alluvial gold spots in the entire region. You'll find various amounts of placer gold just about everywhere here: benches, gravel bars, bedrock, terrace gravels, you name it.

(Note: My understanding is that much of this good gold ground is claimed up these days, so mind your mining manners and don't claim jump. J.R.)

The streams and creeks around Idaho City have also been very good placer gold producers over the years. Try your hand in Mine Creek or along the Payette (nice name) River where very rich placers were once worked.

(Tip: Some of the best placer gold recovered here was from bench gravels left high and dry some distance above the current stream courses. So if you're in the area and don't find much lower down search higher up. J.R.)

Although the Quartzburg and Pioneerville areas contain mostly hard-rock mines, at least 20,000 troy ounces of placer was recovered from drainages and low-lying areas near the mines.

There's more to come on Idaho placer gold in subsequent posts, so stay tuned. Be safe in the interim and, as always, good luck to you.

If you liked this post you may want to read: "I Guess I'll Just Pay a Fine and Go to Hell"

(c) J.R. 2010

Questions? E-mail me at