Monday, April 4, 2011

The historic town of Coarsegold

  • Overview

    The historic town of Coarsegold, located on the lower slopes of the Sierra Mountains along Yosemite Highway 41, offers a glimpse into the 1849 California Gold Rush. The first gold nuggets were found here in 1852, and even today visitors and gold prospectors find the valuable mineral in the area's streams and mines. While much of the area is claimed and inaccessible to the casual gold-panning enthusiast, you may find a bit of the yellow stuff in the local river or in the village.
    Jupiterimages/ Images
    Jupiterimages/ Images
    You can pan for gold on your own in Coarsegold's streams and rivers.
  • History

    The small town of Coarsegold got its name from the coarse chunks of gold found in the area's streams and rivers in the mid-1800s. The possibility of more gold helped the town spring to life, harboring miners who worked the area known to be the southernmost tip of the Mother Lode. By 1851, the population of Coarsegold reached 10,000, but once the gold became more difficult to find, the small town became better known as a stop for travelers heading to Yosemite National Park.
  • Attractions

    A good place to start your gold-panning adventure is at the Coarsegold Historic Village ( Rattle Snake Rick, a local gold-panning expert, helps you get your hands wet in a special area set up for panning. You get to keep any gold flakes you find. When you tire of gold panning, take a look at the village's other offerings. You'll find a variety of artists offering crafts and fine art, along with shops selling collectibles and antiques. You'll also find a restaurant on the premises. The village hosts several special events, including the World Famous Peddler Fairs. The fairs feature an eclectic mix of booths selling antiques, collectibles and treasures.
  • Events

    The Coarsegold Gold Prospectors (, a nonprofit organization established in 1997, offers monthly events for gold-prospecting enthusiasts. To look for gold at the organization's current mining claims, you must fill out and submit a short online application. Once approved, you'll be invited to participate at events that take place at several local claims, including Smith, Bonnel Gulch, Big Creek and Willow Creek.
  • Panning

    If you prefer to try your hand at gold panning in one of Coarsegold's streams or in the Fresno River, make sure you confirm the spot is not restricted or considered a private claim or mine. If you're allowed to pan for gold, buy a 12- or 15-inch steel pan before you head to the water. A good place to look for gold is in mid-stream gravel bars. Once you gather a pan full of gravel, keep rotating the pan to get rid of the large gravel, allowing the heavier gold to settle to the bottom of your pan. Once your pan contains only black sand, look through it carefully to find any gold flakes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Entrepreneurs' Adventures

The latest breed of prospectors may not look quite like the old-time miner '49ers, but with gold prices well above $1,000 an ounce, the hills of California are beckoning a new generation of entrepreneurs struck with gold fever.
And it seems there’s still plenty of gold to be found around the sites of the rush that led thousands to seek their fortune in the Golden State more than a century ago. Witness the sale Wednesday of one of the biggest chunks of gold yet to be found in the region.
The gold nugget, weighing in at 8.2 pounds, sold at auction in Sacramento for $460,000, and was discovered last year by a prospector using a metal detector, reportedly in his own backyard. Both the name of the prospector and that of the buyer are secret, and the price of the intact nugget was higher than the roughly $137,000 the gold would have fetched had it been melted down.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the nugget was found on land in Washington, California, in Nevada County, in the heart of the old gold-mining country.
The prospector was out in the yard with his metal detector when he pinged on the monster nugget back in March 2010. After digging it up with a pick, he proceeded to find two smaller nuggets, weighing four ounces and eight ounces respectively. Those nuggets sold for $7,000 and $17,000, respectively, Wednesday to a separate bidder.
Such a find, which fetched nearly half a million dollars, really is enough to set a glitter in the eye. But the anonymous Washington, California, miner is far from the only one heading to the hills and streams of California in search of gold. As the price of the precious metal has held above $1,000 an ounce (it was trading at $1,386.65 an ounce this morning), a new rush has begun.
That’s because the price of gold makes it worth it to go after the gold left in the hills, even if it’s often more expensive to find than it was back in the old days of mining camps and six-guns.
The rush includes individual entrepreneurs going about the gold hunt the old-fashioned way by panning the ice-cold streams of the Sierra foothills. And it includes companies looking to reopen old mines.

For instance, the New York Times reports, the Briggs mine on the border of Death Valley National Park reopened in 2009 and produced some $30 million worth of gold ore for its owner, Atna Resources.
Another mining company, Sutter Gold Mining Inc., estimates there’s $800 million worth of gold under the 3.6 miles it owns in the Mother Lode.
“People say the Mother Lode’s mined out,” David Cochrane, a vice president with Colorado-based Sutter, told the Times. “But that’s not the case.”
So, for those California entrepreneurs whose hot tech idea doesn’t exactly pan out, there’s always the option of seeing whether they can get their gold by literally panning for it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dreamers searching Hills for precious remaining flakes

More than 130 years after a member of the Custer expedition discovered gold in the Black Hills, the hunt for precious flakes and nuggets goes on at small-scale mining claims.
Only one large gold mine remains in operation in the heart of Black Hills gold mining territory near Lead. But scattered throughout the hills, and concentrated in particular in the northern region, small-scale gold miners toil in search for precious metals that others have missed.
And the pace is picking up along with the market price for gold.
“We’re definitely seeing an increase in the small placer activity,” said Hillarie Jackson, lands minerals specialist with the U.S.
Forest Service district ranger’s office in Spearfish. “It has increased pretty noticeably, to where I’m having two to three meetings with people a week.”
The activity isn’t as great in the Mystic Ranger District of the central and eastern Black Hills. But it remains consistent, said district ranger Bob Thompson.
“We’re getting the same kind of thing,” he said. “People are interested in prospecting those areas that have produced gold in the past.”
Those people are staking claims on federal land in the Black Hills National Forest. And while they actually file their claims with the federal Bureau of Land Management, they turn to Jackson and other Forest Service minerals specialists throughout the Black Hills for guidance on how to take advantage of mining rights dating back in federal law to 1872 mining law.
Jackson’s job is to help them use and enjoy those rights to hunt for gold on a claim they can call their own without undue damage to public land and water.
“We want to minimize the surface disturbance while allowing them to get their minerals extracted,” she said.
That job becomes more complicated when small-scale miners decide to move beyond the pans, buckets and other hand tools and into more mechanized gear. Much of that can be purchased at mining-equipment shops, or general outdoors stores like Cabala’s.
The step up means moving more rocks and water and disturbing more land.
When people make that move, they are often surprised to find more regulation from federal
officials goes with it.
“That’s the equipment people are bringing to public lands to start using, not realizing that once they get to that level we start treating them more like a business,” Jackson said. “Mining is mining.”
There is even interest and inquiries from small-claim miners in using equipment more complex than they would find at an outdoors shops, such as backhoes. But that brings an even greater potential environmental impact, along with even more regulations, Jackson said.
Those regulations include review by the Forest Service, as well as involvement by other federal and state agencies and other permits and environmental reviews. So far, most of those small-scale miners looking to expand to that level have balked at the level of regulations, she said.
“We don’t have anybody currently under that type of activity,” she said. “But I don’t doubt that we will see that.”
The prices of gold and new technology, even on the small-scale level, are likely to drive more prospectors to explore more and closely examine areas that have been hit by miners off and on for more than 100 years.
“Just about anywhere you look — Iron Creek, Rapid Creek, places like that — you can see how turned over they have been historically and how much they have been mined,” Jackson said. “But with today’s technology, they are probably finding some of what has been missed.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gold Rush: Yard Panning Gains Popularity

With gold spot prices charting new highs every month, investors may define the economic environment as a gold rush. But not literally. In what is being deemed "yard panning", common folk are taking to their backyards with the tools of yesteryear in search of a precious, glittering fortune of nuggets. A brief pause seems necessary for you to stop laughing before reading further.
Yard panning had a short lived presence in the 1980's when spot prices for the metal reached the mid-$800 range, but with gold nearing $1400 and ounce, it should surprise no one that a certain demographic of special people are flashing the pans so to speak. Yard panning is performed on low laying streams, creeks, and yes, ponds.

Techniques are quite similar to the tried and true methods of panning, but here are the essential equipment and instructions for modern day yard panning.
14" or so gold pan
Snuffer bottle
Several glass vials with caps
Nugget cups
Instructions for gold panning are quite simple. First, shovel a generous portion of river or creek sand into your pan making sure to carefully remove the larger rocks and debris. Be careful not to accidently throw out a nugget in the process. Next, place your pan underwater with the sand contents still in the pan. Gently loosen up clumps of clay and hard sand without letting it out of the pan. With the gold pan still under water, slosh the pan to the left and right. The concept is that the heavier metals in your pan will sink to the bottom as you shake it back and forth. Soon you will have shaken everything off of the pan except for the heaviest black sand. In concept, this is where the gold, if any, will be waiting. Repeat these steps accordingly until you have filled your gold vials with flakes and hopefully nuggets.
There you have it. Gold panning 101. Sorry, you'll not strike it rich panning mud puddle in the burbs. But no one can stop you from laughing at people who are doing just that. Here is some literature on gold panning if you want to give it a try. Enjoy!
States to Strike it RichTrue prospecting for gold with claim rights is still possible in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming

Monday, February 7, 2011

Prospecting for Gold in the United States

by Harold Kirkemo

Anyone who pans for gold hopes to be rewarded by the glitter of colors in the fine material collected in the bottom of the pan. Although the exercise and outdoor activity experienced in prospecting are rewarding, there are few thrills comparable to finding gold. Even an assay report showing an appreciable content of gold in a sample obtained from a lode deposit is exciting. The would-be prospector hoping for financial gain, however, should carefully consider all the pertinent facts before deciding on a prospecting venture.
Only a few prospectors among the many thousands who searched the western part of the United States ever found a valuable deposit. Most of the gold mining districts in the West were located by pioneers, many of whom were experienced gold miners from the southern Appalachian region, but even in colonial times only a small proportion of the gold seekers were successful. Over the past several centuries the country has been thoroughly searched by prospectors. During the depression of the 1930's, prospectors searched the better known gold-producing areas throughout the Nation, especially in the West, and the little-known areas as well. The results of their activities have never been fully documented, but incomplete records indicate that an extremely small percentage of the total number of active prospectors supported themselves by gold mining. Of the few significant discoveries reported, nearly all were made by prospectors of long experience who were familiar with the regions in which they were working.
The lack of outstanding success in spite of the great increase in prospecting during the depression in the 1930's confirms the opinion of those most familiar with the occurrence of gold and the development of gold mining districts that the best chances of success lie in systematic studies of known productive areas rather than in efforts to discover gold in hitherto unproductive areas. The development of new, highly sensitive, and relatively inexpensive methods of detecting gold, however, has greatly increased the possibility of discovering gold deposits which are too low grade to have been recognized earlier by the prospector using only a gold pan. These may be large enough to be exploited by modern mining and metallurgical techniques. The Carlin mine near Carlin, Nev., is producing gold from a large low-grade deposit that was opened in 1965 after intensive scientific and technical work had been completed. Similar investigations have led to the more recent discovery of a Carlin-type gold deposit in Jerritt Canyon, Nev.
Many believe that it is possible to make wages or better by panning gold in the streams of the West, particularly in regions where placer mining formerly flourished. However, most placer deposits have been thoroughly reworked at least twice--first by Chinese laborers, who arrived soon after the initial boom periods and recovered gold from the lower grade deposits and tailings left by the first miners, and later by itinerant miners during the 1930's. Geologists and engineers who systematically investigate remote parts of the country find small placer diggings and old prospect pits whose number and wide distribution imply few, if any, recognizable surface indications of metal-bearing deposits were overlooked by the earlier miners and prospectors.
One who contemplates prospecting for gold should realize that a successful venture does not necessarily mean large profits even if the discovery is developed into a producing mine. Although the price of gold has increased significantly since 1967 when the fixed price of $35 an ounce was terminated, the increases in the cost of virtually every supply and service item needed in prospecting and mining ventures have kept profit margins at moderate levels, particularly for the small mine operator. In general, wide fluctuations in the price of gold are not uncommon, whereas inflationary pressures are more persistent. The producer of gold, therefore, faces uncertain economic problems and should be aware of their effects on his operation.
Today's prospector must determine where prospecting is permitted and be aware of the regulations under which he is allowed to search for gold and other metals. Permission to enter upon privately owned land must be obtained from the land owner. Determination of land ownership and location and contact with the owner can be a time-consuming chore but one which has to be done before prospecting can begin.
Determination of the location and extent of public lands open to mineral entry for prospecting and mining purposes also is a time consuming but necessary requirement. National parks, for example, are closed to prospecting. Certain lands under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management may be entered for prospecting, but sets of rules and regulations govern entry. The following statement from a pamphlet issued in 1978 by the U.S. Department of the Interior and entitled "Staking a mining claim on Federal Lands" responds to the question "Where May I Prospect?"
There are still areas where you may prospect, and if a discovery of a valuable, locatable mineral is made, you may stake a claim. These areas are mainly in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Such areas are mainly unreserved, unappropriated Federal public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the U.S. Department of the Interior and in national forests administered by the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Public land records in the proper BLM State Office will show you which lands are closed to mineral entry under the mining laws. These offices keep up-to-date land status plats that are available to the public for inspection. BLM is publishing a series of surface and mineral ownership maps that depict the general ownership pattern of public lands. These maps may be purchased at most BLM Offices. For a specific tract of land, it is advisable to check the official land records at the proper BLM State Office.
Successful gold mining under present conditions is a large-scale operation, utilizing costly and sophisticated machinery capable of handling many tons of low-grade ore each day. The grizzled prospector with a burro is no longer a significant participant in the search for mineral deposits, and the small producer accounts for only a minor share of the total production of metals including gold.
Some degree of success in finding gold still remains for those choosing favorable areas after a careful study of mining records and the geology of the mining districts. Serious prospecting should not be attempted by anyone without sufficient capital to support a long and possibly discouraging campaign of preliminary work. The prospective gold seeker must have ample funds to travel to and from the region he selects to prospect and to support the venture. He must be prepared to undergo physical hardships, possess a car capable of traveling the roughest and steepest roads, and not be discouraged by repeated disappointments. Even if a discovery of value is not found, the venture will have been interesting and challenging.
Locations of important gold-producing districts of the United States are shown in some of the reports of the Geological Survey listed at the back of this pamphlet. Geological agencies of the principal gold-producing States where additional information may be obtained also are listed. Information may be obtained, too, from U.S. Bureau of Mines State Liaison offices located in the capital cities of most States.

Placer Deposits

A placer deposit is a concentration of a natural material that has accumulated in unconsolidated sediments of a stream bed, beach, or residual deposit. Gold derived by weathering or other process from lode deposits is likely to accumulate in placer deposits because of its weight and resistance to corrosion. In addition, its characteristically sun-yellow color makes it easily and quickly recognizable even in very small quantities. The gold pan or miner's pan is a shallow sheet-iron vessel with sloping sides and flat bottom used to wash gold-bearing gravel or other material containing heavy minerals. The process of washing material in a pan, referred to as "panning," is the simplest and most commonly used and least expensive method for a prospector to separate gold from the silt, sand, and gravel of the stream deposits. It is a tedious, back-breaking job and only with practice does one become proficient in the operation.
Many placer districts in California have been mined on a large scale as recently as the mid-1950's. Streams draining the rich Mother Lode region--the Feather, Mokelumne, American, Cosumnes, Calaveras, and Yuba Rivers--and the Trinity River in northern California have concentrated considerable quantities of gold in gravels. In addition, placers associated with gravels that are stream remnants from an older erosion cycle occur in the same general area.
Much of the gold produced in Alaska was mined from placers. These deposits are widespread, occurring along many of the major rivers and their tributaries. Some ocean beach sands also have been productive. The principal placer-mining region has been the Yukon River basin which crosses central Alaska. Dredging operations in the Fairbanks district have been the most productive in the State. Beach deposits in the Nome district in the south-central part of the Seward Peninsula rank second among productive placer deposits of Alaska. Other highly productive placers have been found in the drainage basin of the Copper River and of the Kuskokwim River.
In Montana, the principal placer-mining districts are in the southwestern part of the State. The most productive placer deposit in the State was at Alder Gulch near Virginia City in Madison County. Other important placer localities are on the Missouri River in the Helena mining district. The famous Last Chance Gulch is the site of the city of Helena. There are many districts farther south on the headwaters and tributaries of the Missouri River, especially in Madison County which ranks third in total gold production in the State. Gold has been produced at many places on the headwaters of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River, particularly in the vicinity of Butte. Placer production from the Butte district, however, has been over-shadowed by the total output of byproduct gold recovered from the mining of lode deposits of copper, lead, and zinc.
Idaho was once a leading placer-mining State. One of the chief dredging areas is in the Boise Basin, a few miles northeast of Boise, in the west-central part of the State. Other placer deposits are located along the Salmon River and on the Clearwater River and its tributaries, particularly at Elk City, Pierce, and Orofino. Extremely fine-grained (or "flour") gold occurs in sand deposits along the Snake River in southern Idaho. Placers in Colorado have been mined in the Fairplay district in Park County, and in the Breckenridge district in Summit County. In both areas large dredges were used during the peak activity in the 1930's.
The most important mining regions of Oregon are in the northeastern part of the State where both lode and placer gold have been found. Placer gold occurs in many streams that drain the Blue and Wallowa Mountains. One of the most productive placer districts in this area is in the vicinity of Sumpter, on the upper Powder River. The Burnt River and its tributaries have yielded gold. Farther to the west, placer mining (particularly dredging) has been carried on for many years in the John Day River valley.
In southwestern Oregon, tributaries of the Rogue River and neighboring streams in the Klamath Mountains have been sources of placer gold. Among the main producing districts in this region are the Greenback district in Josephine County and the Applegate district in Jackson County.
Minor amounts of placer gold have been produced in South Dakota (the Black Hills region, particularly in the Deadwood area, and on French Creek, near Custer) and in Washington (on the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries).
In addition to these localities, placer gold occurs along many of the intermittent and ephemeral streams of arid regions in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California. In many of these places a large reserve of low-grade placer gold may exist, but the lack of a permanent water supply for conventional placer mining operations requires the use of expensive dry or semidry concentrating methods to recover the gold.
In the eastern States, limited amounts of gold have been washed from some streams draining the eastern slope of the southern Appalachian region in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. Many saprolite (disintegrated somewhat decomposed rock that lies in its original place) deposits in this general region also have been mined by placer methods. Small quantities of gold have been mined by placer methods in some New England States. Additional placer deposits may be discovered in the East, but prospecting will require substantial expenditures of time and money. The deposits probably will be low grade, difficult to recognize, and costly to explore and sample. Moreover, most of the land in the East is privately owned, and prospecting can be done only with the prior permission and agreement of the land owner.

Lode Gold

Lode gold occurs within the solid rock in which it was deposited. Areas likely to contain valuable lode deposits of gold have been explored so thoroughly that the inexperienced prospector without ample capital has little chance of discovering a new lode worth developing. Most future discoveries of workable lode gold ore probably will result from continued investigations in areas known to be productive in the past. The districts in which such new discoveries of gold may be possible are too numerous to be listed in detail in this pamphlet. Some of the famous districts are: in California, the Alleghany, Sierra City, Grass Valley, and Nevada City districts, and the Mother Lode belt; in Colorado, the Cripple Creek, Telluride, Silverton, and Ouray districts; in Nevada, the Goldfield, Tonopah, and Comstock districts; in South Dakota, the Lead district in the Black Hills; and in Alaska, the Juneau and Fairbanks districts. Deposits in these districts generally are gold-quartz lodes.
Prospecting for lode deposits of gold is not the relatively simple task it once was because most outcrops or exposures of mineralized rock have been examined and sampled. Today's prospector must examine not only these exposures, but also broken rock on mine dumps and exposures of mineralized rock in accessible mine workings. Gold, if present, may not be visible in the rock, and detection will depend on the results of laboratory analyses. Usually, samples of 3 to 5 pounds of representative mineralized rock will be sent to a commercial analytical laboratory or assay office for assay. Obviously, knowledge about the geological nature of gold deposits and particularly of the rocks and deposits in the area of interest will aid the prospector.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Serious gold has been found in about 3 out of every 5 states in the US.  While there is still untold amounts of gold to be found, however, it’s not as easy as it was in the 1800′s to find open land to prospect.  You can jump right in and start fishing through streams for a cache, but it can also be a risky and disappointing way to go about any serious prospecting.  There are a few things to consider before loading up the mule and heading off to the mountains that will greatly increase your odds of success – and decrease your odds of ending up in court.

.Just because a mine or claim is no longer worked does not mean that the gold is gone.  That particular property, however, might still be off limits to hunters.  Public lands are not always a free for all gold prospecting areas, either.  Some public land contains claims and other areas are off limits to hunting at all.  Some areas are restricted hunting, meaning you can use a pan, but not a dredge or sluice, or other equipment.   If you are thinking that you can just slip into off-limits areas and slip out without notice, you are taking one healthy risk to your wallet or freedom.   By getting some research under your belt before diving into the creeks with your prospecting gear, you can avoid not only fines, arrests, or being shot for claim jumping, you can also get a pretty good idea where your best bet is to find a good productive placer.  The search for records can be time consuming, but it is a “must” do for anyone serious about gold prospecting.

While you will want to know the ownership status of the land you wish to hunt, it’s not going to do you much good to hunt if there isn’t a decent amount of gold to be found in the area.  While you may have heard that gold can be found just about anywhere, a few flakes dropped by glaciers aren’t really going to make a hunt worthwhile.  You should start your search by studying mining records to find areas from which good amounts of gold have already been found. State Bureau of Mines offices will have information about mining in the areas you are researching.  Remember, thousands of people already have searched the country for gold.  You aren’t likely to make much headway in new and untouched territory.  Your best bet is to stick with known territories. While some people believe that areas that contain mines are tapped out, this is rarely the case. Gold in these areas still works its way down into streams and forms placers downhill from the sources.

The city office in the area you are researching will have records of current mining claims as well as records of claims that are now abandoned.  Once you study these and are content with pursuing prospecting in an area, you will want to do another bit of study.  The BLM offices have maps containing land status plats that show the ownership of public lands. Their offices also have mining and mineralogy maps. These offices are where you find out where you are free to prospect.
Claims  become abandoned for many reasons.  Some might be abandoned because the area had been worked until the claim quit producing.  Others may just have never been fruitful in the first place.  Others could be abandoned due to other difficulties that the owner encountered, such as inability to get to and from the claim, illness or death, and a myriad other reasons.  If a claim is abandoned and the land is open to prospecting, you might be able to pick up the claim for a low price and continue work on it. If it has been a considerable amount of time since a claim has been worked, it may contain fresh gold which continues to wash down into placer areas over time.

Local assay offices are sometimes willing to provide information about their own records of gold assays from local area claims, although sometimes you will be charged for records searches.  If the claim produced gold recently enough, someone in the office might just even remember that it produced well.

A bit of geological study about gold is always a good idea for those who are extremely serious about prospecting, too.  What you learn may just help you identify “new” localities near the older, known ones.

While these studies can be time consuming, most areas have several months a year (in some places most of the year) which are not suitable for hunting in the field so these are excellent months to do your “indoor” prospecting.

Once you have the information you need about open land and available claims, you are then ready to go out into the field and try your luck in the 2011 Gold Rush.

Written By: HeySal on January 20, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eureka! Best vacations for treasure hunters

Making money while on a vacation isn't a common occurrence, unless you get lucky on the slots. But if Vegas isn't your style, don't worry — you can still come home from a trip with your purse a little fatter. 

 There are legends of pirates' buried treasure that was never found, gold that has still been seen in California rivers and caves in the Midwest that abound with jewels and gems of all kinds. Although treasure-hunting vacations may not make you millions, there is a good possibility of finding diamonds or gold — and even if you don't, looking is half the fun.

Chances are you won't be disappointed at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, an extremely rare diamond site where you get to keep what you find. Most diamonds found are less then one carat and not big enough to be cut, but many visitors take their winnings home as souvenirs or have them made into jewelry. There is the occasional large find: In 1975 a whopping 16.37-carat rock was found. Finding bling of this size is rare, but it depends on how hard and deep you look.
Besides mining for diamonds, lots of other gems, including emeralds, aquamarines, garnets, rubies, amethysts and sapphires, are still buried deep in the mountains. At Gem Mountain in North Carolina, gems of all shapes and sizes have been found, some large enough to be cut and set in jewelry. Visitors can dig through real gemstone flumes with the help of mining experts, while comparing their findings with friends and family to see who has the biggest and best.
Kay Buchanan, owner of Gem Mountain, says, "People love the idea of treasure-hunting because it's like gambling. You're always hoping for the 'big' find. It's something that everyone can do, young or old." A real, operational aquamarine mine is also open for tours, and guests can watch miners search through the rocks for precious gems.
With the price of gold skyrocketing these days, panning for gold like the 49ers did during the California Gold Rush may be best way to strike it rich. Gold mining trips available through the California Gold Co. take willing participants to Woods Creek, one of the richest creeks in California, which still yields a good amount of gold.
Image: gold nugget
Although the heyday of gold mining is behind us, gold can still be found in Woods Creek, one of the richest creeks in California. Day-long gold mining trips take participants into the beautiful woods surrounding the creek, where adventurous miners can dig, sluice and pan for gold.
The chances of finding gold are very likely here, and you can even keep what you find (up to a half-ounce). Rob Goreham, founder of the California Gold Co., thinks the reason people like mining so much is the thrill of finding gold. He says, "It doesn't matter the size of what is found, people are just excited to be out there searching." Expert gold miners lead the trips to help with the digging, sluicing and panning for gold.
The areas surrounding California Gold Country offer all different aspects of a gold miner's life, like real working mines that are open for tours and gold and silver mining towns that can be explored. And after a long day in the mines or at the river, you can cap it all off at a saloon with a sarsaparilla.
Speaking of gold, you might be able to find a lost buried treasure among some old pirate islands. One in particular — Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada — has many legends surrounding what's buried deep

Speaking of gold, you might be able to find a lost buried treasure among some old pirate islands. One in particular — Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada — has many legends surrounding what's buried deep in its caves. The mysterious Treasure Pit (also known as the Money Pit), reportedly houses booty from the 18th century. No one knows for sure where it may have come from, but a few theories have been suggested.

Even though this treasure hunt has been going on for more than 300 years without a single cent being recovered, excavations are conducted by determined groups who hold a Treasure Trove License in hopes of recovering an unforeseen amount of money.

And while tourists can't explore its treasure sites by themselves on any given day, each year a festival, Explore Oak Island Days, is held where everyone can join in on the fun and legend of the Oak Island treasure.
So whether you love the legends or the jewels, a treasure hunt is the type of "working" vacation even homebodies can get behind.