Canyon of Gold in Southern Nevada?

(A fortune in gold may still exist near Goodsprings, Nevada.)

A fortune in natural gold may await a lucky treasure hunter or gold prospector somewhere near Goodsprings in southern Nevada. Although large amounts of gold, platinum, silver, and vanadium were mined in this region, legend has it that a canyon rich in gold still awaits discovery nearby.

Goodsprings received its name in 1868 when a group of gold prospectors and miners headed up by Joseph Good camped at a natural spring along the slopes of a small range called...yep, you guessed it...Spring Mountain. Joseph Good came to Goodsprings after hearing an old Indian man tell of "a glittering canyon near the Colorado River filled with gold."

A Bird in the Hand...

That was enough for Good and those he convinced to accompany him to this desolate stretch of Nevada real estate. Although he didn't find the canyon the old Indian described, Joseph Good and the others did find a region that was highly mineralized and bursting with precious metals potential.

Gold Panning Kits
Mining Equipment

Once at Goodsprings, Joseph Good set to work locating and filing mining claims. After all, a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush and chasing after a potential "will-o-the-wisp" based solely on the verbal description of an old Indian just flat didn't make sense.

Precious Metals in Abundance

However, Good may have reconsidered his assessment of the canyon of gold once ore samples from his first claim were assayed. They proved high in iron pyrites ("fool's gold") but very low in that lustrous yellow metal that commands such high prices today.

 (Pyritic gold ore.)

Not to be deterred or misdirected, Joseph Good set about filing a series of different claims in the area that eventually provided him with a comfortable living for a number of years. After the initial ore discoveries at Goodsprings, commercial mining enterprises began buying up claims and recovering precious metals in abundance.

Anyone's Guess

By the late 1800s the mining boom at Goodsprings had turned to bust. Small-scale prospectors and miners began pulling up their tent stakes and moving on to find better gold ground. Not long after, the mining companies themselves began to fold up and cut their losses. In the process, the old Indian's canyon of gold was forgotten completely.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, except for his reference to the Colorado River, the old Indian man never passed along along any reference points or "waybills" that could provide clues to the canyon of gold's possible location. Many canyons, both large and small can be found near Goodspring Mountain and other hills and ranges in the vicinity, so in the end it's anyone's guess.

What May Tell the Tale

If you're a treasure hunter with your heart set on searching for this one, you're going to need some instruction from an experience gold prospector or miner on just what geological signs to look for and how to sample for and recognize gold ore and the evidence of any placer gold. By the way, the latter will lead you right to the source of the canyon's gold...providing you find it in the first place.

You placer miners out there will know what to look for, unless I miss my bet. A downstream-to-upstream search of likely canyons with periodic samples of alluvial gravels taken and panned or dry washed may tell the tale. Who knows, even if you don't find the canyon of gold you might turn up a localized placer the old timers bypassed.

(The canyon of gold could be filled with alluvial nuggets like these.)

Word of Caution

Because of your prior knowledge of all things mining, you Nevada and Southern California gold prospectors out there have the advantage over "generic" treasure hunters (if such a description applies). This may be a good time to start planning a prospecting trip to the Goodsprings area.

One word of caution to all comers though...this part of the Nevada desert is not the sort of place to arrive at in the heat of summer. Lack of preparation on your part could put you at serious risk. As a noted American philosopher named Forrest Gump once said, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Best of luck and good hunting out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Arizona's Lost Flannigan Mine (Part 1)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. HMMMmmmm.......almost makes me wish I still lived in las vegas......almost! There is a similar story on Saddle Mountain on the Idaho/Montana border where Lost Trail Ski Resort is now. For several years now I've wanted to go take a look, but it hasn't worked out yet. Stuff like this, true or not, keeps the wanderlust going! I have a bad disease I call "round the corner itis" always have to see whats around the next bend, or over the next hill..... Thanks JR!

  2. I've always wanted to take a combo prospecting trip from southern to northern Nevada Gary. I still believe the Silver State holds lots of opportunities for small-scale miners and treasure hunters. Thanks for commenting! J.R.

  3. I think you are right. So much of Nevada is "empty" desert with no water and so hot a lot of folks haven't realy exsplored it that much.

  4. Interestingly enough, when you get to parts of Nevada you'll run into forests, streams, etc. It's not all desert as most people think...Best, J.R.

  5. The colorado river is at least 75 miles as the crow flys from good springs. Im heading down this weekend. The school is the oldest in clark country maybe some old coins and i will begin to hit some placer beds.

  6. I wish you the best out there. Let me know how you do. Best, J.R.


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