Some great places to try panning for gold in Oregon!
These are few locations on public land that have been set aside specifically for recreational use, including gold panning. These are areas that have been withdrawn from mineral entry, meaning that they are not claimed and are open to recreation gold panning. In some places you can only use “hands and pans”, while other areas allow use of larger mining equipment, shovels, etc., but certain permits may be required.
Stay below the water line and do not disturb vegetated areas. You are highly encouraged to call the appropriate land management agency to get the most current information regarding updated rules for the specific area that you intend to visit. Some areas are only open during certain times of the year, and rules and regulations may change at any time.
1. Quartzville Recreation Corridor
There is a section of Quartzville Creek that is located just above Green Peter Reservoir that is open to recreational gold prospecting. It starts at the Rocky Top Bridge and goes up to Galena Creek. Within this stretch of Quartzville Creek are the Dogwood and Yellowbottom Recreation sites.
This is a historical mining area that has produced quite a bit of gold, and it is also one of the better areas for people living in the Willamette Valley. It is a relatively short distance from Salem and Eugene.
2. Hellgate Recreation Area
This is a very large section of the Rogue River, one of southern Oregon’s richest gold rivers. It covers a 27-mile stretch of the river between the entrance of the Applegate River and the entrance of Graves Creek and includes tributaries within ¼ mile of the Rogue River itself.
This part of the river has special regulations with strict regulations on the type of equipment you can use. Best to contact the Medford BLM before doing any prospecting here just to make sure you are within the regulations.
3. Gold Nugget Waysides
There are three places along Highway 234 near Gold Hill that provide more opportunities for gold panning on the Rogue River. They are called the Gold Nugget Waysides and they are relatively small access points that do not allow mineral claims and are open to anyone who wants to try some gold panning.
4. Applegate River Access
One of Oregon’s richest gold-bearing rivers is the Applegate that flow through the far southwest corner of the state. There are two good access points on the river where the public can try a bit of gold panning. They are called the Tunnel Ridge Site and the Little Applegate Recreation Site.
The access point each cover about ¼ mile stretches of the Applegate in historically rich mining areas. Both sites are relatively close together but require a small hike to get to.
Also Read: Oregon’s Biggest Gold Nugget Discoveries
5. Sixes River
Apprimately 10 miles east of Sixes, Oregon is an access point for gold prospectors. It is called the Sixes River BLM Recreational Mining Site and is roughly 1 mile of the Sixes River that anyone can do some prospecting on without needing a mining claim.
6. Sharps Creek
There is a good access about 15 miles southeast of Cottage Grove that allows recreational gold mining on Sharps Creek. This area has seasonal access with different types of mining gear allowed during different times of the year. Contact the Eugene BLM office for the most current information.
7. Brice Creek
Another access for gold miners is on Brice Creeek near Cottage Grove within the very rich Bohemia Mining District. The access points on are on National Forest Lands at Cedar Creek Campground and Lund Park Campground. The Cottage Grove Ranger District can give you the most update information about gold prospecting at this location.
8. Cow Creek Recreation Area
Near Roseburg there is a good access for gold prospectors at the Cow Creek Recreation Area. This is a tributary to the Umpqua River and has good gold. There is 1,300 feet of access along the creek that has been withdrawn from mineral entry, meaning that anyone can pan for gold in the gravels without needing to worry about mining claims.
9. Oregon Beaches
The beaches of Southern Oregon offer a very unique gold prospecting opportunity, and most areas are open to prospecting which gives you lots of different areas to explore. No one can file a mining claim on Oregon beaches, which means that most areas are open. There are a few restrictions and closed sections primarily for environmental reasons but in general there is abundant access to prospect here.
The richest areas to pan for gold on Oregon beaches are near the towns of Gold Beach and Coos Bay, but fine placer gold can be found all the way from Florence down to the California border.
Recommended: Start Finding Gold! A Guide to Prospecting in Oregon