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Panning for Gold

  • 06/05/2021
  • 9:00 AM
  • Lynx Creek Arizona


Panning for Gold


IMAGE INFORMATION: This is gold on a microscope slide.  The diameter of the circle is 0.5".  This is the type of gold you can expect to find at Lynx Creek.  The last time I was there a volunteer ranger for the US Forest Service stopped by where I was panning and we chatted for a couple of minutes.  He told me of a young man who was metal detecting up one of the side drainages and found a one ounce nugget. (!)  So, there is a possibility of finding some nice gold in the area.  I have also metal detected in that area.  I have found aluminum foil, shell casings, buttons, cans, nails, bottle caps, wire, bullets, etc. (no gold yet).  I never just leave the trash behind.  Well, somebody has to clean up in the forest...

MEET TIME: 9:00 AM (see map below)  

END TIME: The trip will end by 4 PM (trip could be overnight or day trip)


TRAVEL NOTE:  Please allow at least 1/2 hour more time than normal to get to the meeting spot.   **Be sure to have full tank of gas and good tires.**

VEHICLE:  High clearance vehicles recommended.  Carpools not being arranged.

SAFETY:  Social distancing and wear masks in close groups.  Please bring a whistle in case we need to find you or gather up the participants.  Sunscreen, hat, gloves, insect repellent, extra water.

RECOMMENDED: sturdy shoes or boots, buckets or backpacks, rake, rock pick, small shovel, pick hammer, chisel, normal day hiking items.


TRIP LEADER: Stan Celestian

RSVP REQUIRED by 6PM on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. 

MSA Members Only.

Hope to see you there!

Stan Celestian
2021 MSA Field Trip Coordinator

The area of Lynx Creek (outside of Prescott) that we will be visiting was set aside by the National Forest Service for gold panning.

Lynx Creek is in an active gold mining area about 7 miles southeast of Prescott and about 2.5 miles southeast of Lynx Lake. There are many small private claims in the area. The area we will be visiting has been set aside by the National Forest Service for panning. No machines are allowed to search for gold, and digging by hand is confined to the areas in the creek bed. Metal detectors are allowed. The elevation at the creek is ~5800’

Meeting Place and Time
We will meet in the southwest corner of Walker Road and Rte 69 at the Costco parking lot (just east of Petsmart) at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, May 5th. We will depart at 9:45 AM.

Getting There - navigable by any vehicle
Take I-17 north to the Prescott exit 262 for AZ-69.  Then, follow AZ-69 for about 33 miles NW to Walker Road and the Costco parking lot. You will drive all the way through Prescott Valley.
When we leave for the site we will turn left (south) onto Walker Road. Drive south on Walker Road for about 5 miles (my estimate from Google Earth). Coordinates = 34.484828, -112.372483
Turn left onto Bannie Mine Road (graded dirt road). Drive about 0.7 miles to the parking area.

Equipment Suggested
Gold pans would be nice. These can be purchased online ( e.g.) or at Walmart or sporting stores like Cabelas, Bass Pro Shop or Dick’s. But call first to make sure.
I have seen people using pie pans or other metal cooking utensils, but their surfaces are very reflective and make seeing the gold flakes difficult. Plastic pans are the best (black, blue or even green).

Digging tools - Although many people just scrape up dirt from the creek bed, your best chance to actually find some gold will be to dig among the rocks along the banks. A Geology pick works nice for this. You may also want to use a small shovel to move more dirt. Placing the gold laden dirt into a bucket is a good idea as well. In most trips I have made to this area the creek is not freely flowing. There will probably be isolated pools in which you can pan. Bringing a bucket of dirt to the spot will save you the effort of going back and forth to your prospect hole.


There is likely to be a visit by either a forest service ranger or one of their minions. Last year it was a minion who did not arrive in a uniform or Forest Service vehicle, but still authorized to give you a citation for rules violations.
If you find a spot to dig in bedrock, cracks and a few crannies are a likely place to find the elusive metal. A long slender claw tool can be used to fetch the nuggets. This could be a specialty tool from a panning supply store or a piece of wire with a hook on the end. (Coat hanger wire works better that copper wire as the copper wire bends too easily.)

Capturing the Gold
Once you have worked the dirt in your pan down to where it is primarily black sand (mostly magnetite), you will begin to see the shiny golden fragments of gold. These are easily distinguished, from anything else you might think is gold, by the metallic golden luster it has. AND, the fact that it does not move easily across the bottom of your pan. Retrieving the gold is done by either picking the nuggets up with you fingers (fat chance of finding ones this big) or more likely separating the gold fragment from the black sand and then touching it with your finger. The gold will stick to your finger. Then you place your finger over a vial filled with water that you conscientiously brought with you for this purpose. As that teeny tiny speck of gold on your finger touches the surface of the water it is released into the vial and sinks quite quickly to its lonely spot on the bottom of your vial. I suggest bringing a clear glass vial so you can admire the fruits of your labors and show everyone how well you have done. (You may also want to bring a microscope to see the gold you will be collecting… at least a hand lens.)

Panning Technique
There are many YouTube videos showing how to pan for gold. I will be there to show you the technique and check on the group as the day goes on.

Here is a satellite view of the Costco parking lot meeting spot.


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