by James Patrocky


Colorado is well known for gold. The first significant Gold find dates back to 1859, In Idaho Springs in Clear Creek. Colorado Prospecting can be a challenge due to so many entities regulating the land. An example of this multiple entities controlling the same land is The south Platte river from Chatfield reservoir to downtown Denver, as it is regulated by US Army corps of engineers, Which requires a permit to prospect. South Suburban Parks and Rec. who will not give a clear answer on rules of prospecting and the city of Littleton. None of which agree on prospecting rules. Finally the counties also have view points on prospecting. This leaves it up to the Colorado Prospector to know exactly what rules apply based on where you are at.  This may be a little intimidating to new prospectors, however here are a few known “safe” locations:

Clear Creek Canyon

Jefferson County Open Space allows recreational gold prospecting in Clear Creek only; from mm 270.5 west to the county line (approximately mile marker 260.5). Prospecting activities are prohibited in all other Jefferson County Open Space locations. There is one active claim in this area, contact for permission to access this claim. Dredges up to 4′ are allowed in this area.

Coor’s brewery controls the water flow of this section of the river, water levels will fluctuate a few inches every couple hours, you may need to re position your sluice a few times a day.

Arapahoe bar

Recreational gold panning is allowed in Clear Creek at the Arapahoe Bar area. This area is located adjacent to the Clear Creek Trail on the North side of the trail, approximately one quarter mile West of Youngfield St. and I-70 and South of Highway 58.


“The beach” is located in the city of Fairplay, and they do require a permit available here:


Lesser Family Gold Mining and Exploration (pay site)    720-545-5635

This is on the Spanish Bar District of Clear Creek near Idaho Springs. Mining experiances and if your short on time to prospect, they offer paydirt as well.

Grand Valley Gold Prospector’s club: (western slope)

Gold in Colorado

Gold in Colorado ranges from -400 mesh to large nuggets. Due to the spring run-off Which starts in June. The river water volumes can make mining impossible and dangerous. The USGS maintains flow meters on most Colorado rivers, and is worth checking before driving to your spot.

Gold from Clear Creek Canyon

The majority of the Gold a prospector will find is -30 mesh. Most of the gold is accompanied by very large amounts of black sand. Colorado will test your fine panning skills. Trout fishing is a popular sport as well so you may end up with several grams of fisherman’s lead in your sluice. Bedrock can be 20 or more feet down and in most places you won’t reach it. You will however find many layers of different clay which makes for a colorful run if you dig deep.


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Dick Sargent69
Dick Sargent69

We have a little local gold prospecting club!
Welcome from the western slope of Colorado!