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San Joaquin River Gold Panning Locations

Gold in San Joaquin River

Being the longest river on the mother lode, the San Joaquin River offers a great opportunity to anyone who wants to escape the bustling of the city and try their luck at finding gold. The river originates from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and flows for 366 miles through the San Joaquin valley before emptying into the Pacific Ocean at the San Francisco Bay.

This river was an important gold rush river in late 1840s when gold was first discovered on in California. Most of the major gold bearing rivers of the southern Sierra Nevada flow into the San Joaquin River. Some of the major gold-bearing tributaries include the Cosumnes River, Mokelumne River, Tuolumne River, and Merced River.

The river also had numerous gold mines along its banks during the height of the California’s gold rush many of which grew into busy mining towns. Some of the important mining towns on the river include:




This was one of the first towns to develop on the river as a result of mining. The town was established in 1849 by Captain Charles Weber who was a German immigrant. He came to the area with other gold rush miners but after failing to make it big as a miner decide to make a living supplying the needs to the miners.

Weber used to the Spanish Land grant to buy over 49,000 acres of land at the current site of Stockton in 1849. He then established a trading center on the land and had several names for it such as Mudville and Tuleburg before settling on Stockton.

The town was incorporated in 1850 and given its charter in 1851. The city continued to flourish as a major shipping point on the San Joaquin River until way after the gold rush had ended. Today the city is an important center in the economy of California.

Solid Gold Nugget from CA


Prospecting for Gold on the River Today


The San Joaquin River is still an important gold mining river up to this date. Some parts of the river are more productive than others. You will generally find richer gold deposits in the headwaters rather than the lower section of the river.

There are several points where you can pan for gold on its banks.

The San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Management Area is one of the most popular places to search for gold, and offers many areas where you an explore.

The scenic San Joaquin River Gorge is situated about five miles to the northwest of the Auberry. The recreation area stretches from Millerton Lake State Park Recreation Area to Fresno Lands. Here you have a chance to enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities including gold panning, hiking or horseback riding.

Pan Gold


Next: These 3 Huge Gold Nuggets Were Found in California


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