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Goldpanning on the Kenai Peninsula
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AOJ Outdoor Activities

Where to look for gold

Water is the primary agent in the formation of most placer deposits. Moving water can transport large amounts of material, from fine silt to large boulders, especially during runoff periods. When freed from the rock by weathering, gold is added to stream waters along with rock debris, and is carried along by the stream. Where streams meander, go over falls, or are deflected around boulders, a drop in water velocity occurs, and the gold drops out. Continued agitation by water causes gold to settle down through the gravel until reaching bedrock or an impermeable clay layer. These concentrations are called pay streaks.

The best places to find gold exist where turbulence changes to slower-moving water flow. Check out slower water below rapids and waterfalls, deep pools, and the downstream side of boulders. Inside bends of meanders, upstream ends of sand or 'point" bars are good places to pan fine gold, which is renewed yearly during runoff. Bedrock crevices or pockets acting as natural riffles can collect gold. Scoop out and pan material from these spots. Spring, early summer, and just before freeze up in the fall are good times of the year for panning. Water is low and gold-bearing gravel is exposed. To minimize resource damage, confine digging to active, unvegetated stream gravels.


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