South Dakota is one of America’s most famous locations for gold. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the term “Black Hills Gold”, the very moniker is referring to the gold found within the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Horatio Ross was the very first to discover the gold along one of the creek beds in the 1870’s. His findings struck up another gold rush into the great hills of South Dakota. To this very day there are still those finding rich pockets just waiting to be mined. Thankfully, a lot of the land is still available and open to gold panning for those that want to try their hand.
Where to Prospect
Despite the fact that many areas are open to panning, you will need to do your research to make sure you are in an area that you can prospect. The national forest within the Black Hills is open to prospecting as long as the area isn’t claimed, but most of the better ground will already be claimed up. Keep in mind also that the forest backs to privately owned property. If you’re seeking to pan in any of those areas you will need prior approval from landowners. It’s always a good idea to get quality maps for your area and make sure you are in a good area.
Most people recognize Deadwood from the history books. Deadwood was one of the prime locations during the South Dakota gold rush due to its ideal location within the Black Hills. During this time, around 1874, the town filled with miners hoping to strike it rich. The town was known for being rough and lawless making it a hard life. This is also the location of the famous death of Wild Bill Hickock.
Like the settlers of the past you’re here searching for gold! You can head off on your own but much of what is available around Deadwood is now offered through way of tour.
There are underground tours that will give you a better look at what an actual mining operation looks like. You’ll go down into Broken Boot Gold Mine where you follow behind an old ore-cart track that goes deep into the mine shafts. After you’ve had a firsthand look at the hard work that went on below the surface you can come back up for air and enjoy some gold panning.
If you want to get out and away from the crowds but don’t have enough experience of time to go searching for the best locations yourself, you can hire a personal guide. These are locals that are well versed in the area and can take you deeper into the area they are familiar with. Depending on the amount of time you have available you can create a custom trip that lasts anywhere from a partial day up to a week. If you do go this route, and plan for more than an afternoon, you’ll need to bring camping gear.
Getting a guide can be a great option if you want to get down to it. So much time can be spent surveying and trying to find a hot spot. These men/women will take you right to a place that they’ve known to be fruitful so you’re much more likely to come away with something significant. Of course, half the fun is the search so if you have time you might just want to wander until you get a feeling.
Also Read: Montana Gold Mining History and Locations