How to Find Gold in Creeks: 7 Steps to Becoming a Real Prospector

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Gold. It is man’s most valued element in the world.

For centuries, gold has been at the center of every civilization, a currency that drives an economy to growth even to this very day. Known as one of the few “noble elements” in the periodic table, gold has proven to be the noblest.

Though it is not the rarest element (scarce but not extremely rare), gold has proven to withstand the test of time. Whereas silver tarnishes and iron corrodes, gold does not. It barely reacts to every other element yet it can be used for many things because of its malleability.

And that is why man has its fascination for this element, best exemplified by the myth of King Midas. Gold prospecting has driven people to search the world for gold under bedrocks, inside mountains, and along rivers.

The gold rush in American history is one perfect example where people traveled all the way to the West Coast in search of gold. To this day, finding gold is still wildly popular, and is now considered a pastime or hobby by many.

One of the most common ways of how to find gold in creeks and rivers. If you are a gold prospector or an aspiring treasure hunter, here are some ideas on how to start your gold hunting.

Identifying Gold in Rivers and Creeks

If you overheard your neighbor screaming that he found gold by the river, there is a strong likelihood that he is telling the truth and is not crazy at all.

Yes, gold can be found in rivers and streams though not the kind of gold we see in movies. Instead of the typical large golden nuggets, gold in creeks are usually found in tiny amounts, either as flakes or grains. These are called ‘alluvial gold’.

Alluvial gold is the gold that gets washed from the main source of gold in the area called the ‘mother lode’. Typically, they weigh less than an ounce and can be as little as a quarter of an inch or less.

It is important to know that gold is a heavy element. It is 20 times heavier than water and 10 times heavier than other usual metals. Its weight is the key factor in understanding where and how to find gold in creeks and rivers.

Mapping Gold in Creeks

So how do you find gold? You start by mapping. Remember that the amount or concentration of gold varies in every place. So not every creek is flowing with gold. Sometimes, there isn’t even any gold to find. So even before you start mapping, know which places have a reported high concentration of gold. Pick a creek or river in that location and start “creek reading”:

  • Check where the shallow parts of the creek are. Use that as a starting point. Because of its weight, gold resides in areas where there is a sudden drop in elevation.
  • Search in between crevices and cracks of bedrock. Gold also settles in areas where the current is slower.
  • ​Search along river bends or around objects like boulders that obstruct river flow. Gold can also be found under silt but it is more difficult to find.
  • See if the river leads to an intersection or confluence. Gold may be present there as well.
  • Check if the creek or river leads to a waterfall. Most likely, high amounts of gold deposit can be found at the base of the fall.

To know more information, you can watch this video:

Gold Panning Along Creeks

If you are able to determine your prospective location for gold, the next step is to start sifting through the layers of sediments in the riverbed.

Because gold is heavy, it usually settles under the riverbed below the black sand and gravel. But you can’t find gold by just scooping with your bare hands. Some materials you need to prepare are:

  • gold pan
  • shovel/spade
  • funnel
  • wide-mouth bottle

Finding gold in creeks will require a lot of patience as a first try will not always yield you a find. The process also needs to be done carefully so as not to lose the tiny gold bits or flakes.

  • To start, scoop a good amount of river sediment on your gold pan.
  • Swirl your pan.
  • ​Tilt your gold pan slightly towards the river and let the current wash out the lightest layers of silt on your pan.
  • ​Swirl your pan again and repeat number two to wash out the next layer of sediment.
  • ​Usually, you’ll end up with black sand or gravel of which underneath may lie some gold.
  • ​You can do another dipping or try to sift using another gold pan until you see the gold.
  • ​If you see gold in what remains in the pan, use a funnel to transfer it to the bottle.

Before you head off, remember to check if the river or creek you’ll be visiting has restrictions and rules in claiming for gold. Also note that you may also find an impostor of gold called pyrite (or fool’s gold). They look exactly alike but applying some pressure on it will show that gold bends and pyrite shatters.


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