Don't Discount Baja's Gold Potential (Part 1)

 (Very basic Baja Peninsula map.)

I know there are many of you out there who live and work in the collective bee hive known as Southern California as I once did. As for me, I opted out of that scene 23 years ago for a less frenzied environment and more open space. But if you're a gold prospector or miner whose tired of hitting the same worked-over ground in and around SoCal, you may want to fix your gaze southward.

Good Gold to be Had

Let me begin by stating that my mining career (such that it is) has pretty much been centered in the Lower 48 states of the U.S., with the bulk of that activity taking place here in the Southwest and West. But 30 years ago I decided to try my hand at a little gold prospecting and mining in Mexico, specifically Baja California (also known as the Baja Peninsula). Yes, good old Baja has something to offer other than decent surf, good fishing, and the usual tourist traps.

It may surprise you to learn that there's some good placer gold still to be had in Baja for those adventurous spirits willing to put in the time, effort, and long drives...some of the latter over bad roads. Granted, I'm speaking from the distance of three decades or so, but if you're in SoCal or planning to visit this narrow peninsula, Baja should not be discounted in your potential prospecting or mining plans.

Placer Only

Now I have to toss a direct disclaimer into the stew pot. I have no idea what the situation is like in Baja these days. With all the drug smuggling, cartel activity, and illegal immigration issues we've been hearing about for some time I suspect things may not be as they once were down in Baja or Mexico proper for that matter. I spent the bulk of my time in both places way back in the 1970s and 1980s so use the time filter of my own experiences and observations to come up with your own conclusions.

(Baja's landscapes can be rugged but beautiful.)

All this said, in my heart of hearts I doubt much has changed in the out-of-the way gold locations I once visited, sampled, and worked in Baja. Either way, I've decided to pass along some info about gold in Baja your way. I'll talk a little bit about the Peninsula's geology, gold locations, possible pitfalls, and exactly what's what with the gold routine down there. Please note that I'll only be talking about placer in this series of posts, not lode gold.

Mineralized "Belt"

Baja's mineralized gold "belt" runs through the middle of the Peninsula (both Baja Del Norte and Baja Del Sur) in the more rugged or mountainous country away from its coastlines...for the most part, anyway. If you want to trace this mineralized "belt" I recommend that you get a highly detailed or topographic map of Baja and draw a rough line (digitally or with pen or pencil) through the following gold locations, because most of them won't be listed on road maps I suspect:

1) From Campo Juarez southwestward to Jacalitos.

2) From Jacalitos south, southwestward to Santa Clara and El Alamo.

3) From El Alamo south to Santa Cruz.

4) From Santa Cruz south to El Morro.

5) From El Morro southeastward to Catamajue

6) From Catamjue south to San Luis.

This line represents the center of this mineralized "belt" or zone and the mineralization extends to the east and west of that line for some distance but not close to the coastal highways like Highway 1 to the west and Highway 5 to the east. There are a few exceptions to this rule of thumb where gold was found fairly close to the east coast at Onyx (near Miramar), Escondido, El Pulpo, and La Sirena.

That should give you an idea of things and room to ponder. I'll have more for you on Baja gold in my next post.

Best of luck out there.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2013

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Jim, it is too bad that California has become what it is today. Infested with people, some of them very bad people. Drugs,greed and overcrowding has ruined what was once thought of as paradise. So many of the old journals from the early settlers mention California as if it was the best place on Earth.........I guess it's why all those folks moved there.... personally, I don't like people well enough to live around them. Gary

  2. I agree about Calif. home state sadly. But this series of posts is about Baja California, Mexico. Not California in the U.S. Best, J.R.

  3. Jim, I guess I didn't know there was a difference. It's been many,many years since I've been anywhere near California. I don't recall ever being in Mexico. If I ever was it would have been as a baby. We lived in and traveled through all of the western states at one time. I grew up mainly in southern Nevada, but lived a short time in California as well.Left there in the late 1960's. I've been to 31 states in all.....born in Virginia. Gary

  4. No problem Gary...easy mistake to make. J.R.

  5. Hmmm...I fish la Paz every year and atv But never had a gold pan with me. Won't make that mistake this year. Waiting for next post so its time to ponder.

    Thx JR

  6. Hey Greg! Yep, bringing along your gold pan and a few hand tools may not be a bad idea. Best to you, J.R.

  7. Hey JR I also used to prospect down in Baja since the 80's I think I may have run into you once or twice down there in El Alamo. AzNuggetBob

  8. We may very well have met then Bob...small world ain't it?! Take care, J.R.


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