Gold Panning

Ranger Lead Gold Rush Program
Ranger-led Gold Rush program. NPS Photo.

Can I pan for gold on my own at Whiskeytown?

Yes, recreational gold panning is allowed but you will need to purchase a permit and follow park regulations. The permit costs one dollar and is valid for one year from the date of purchase. Any person 17 years of age or older must have a permit while gold panning. You will also need an entrance pass.

Where can I purchase the permit?

The gold panning permit is sold at the visitor center or can be purchsed online. An entrance pass is also required for your vehicle. The entrance pass can be purchased online or at the visitor center when you buy the gold panning permit.

Where is a good place to go panning in the park?

The Tower House Historic District is a popular site for gold panning because Mill Creek, Crystal Creek, and Clear Creek converge in the area. A long tradition of mining activities is evidenced by structures remaining from the boom days, including the Camden House and the Camden Water Ditch Trail.

Nearby, the Clear Creek Picnic area on Trinity Mountain Road is also a popular location for gold panning.

What are the regulations for gold panning in the park?

Legal gold panning activities in the park are limited to the attempted or actual removal of gold from a stream by using either a metal or plastic gold pan and a trowel, spoon or other digging implement having a blade surface not exceeding 4 inches in width and 8 inches in length.

The following are PROHIBITED under the Code of Federal Regulations:

  • The use of metal detectors, suction devices, crevice cleaners, screen separators, view boxes, sluice boxes, rockers, dredges, and any other mechanical or hydraulic devices.
  • The use of skin diving equipment such as snorkels, masks, or wetsuits.
  • The use of any toxic substance or chemical, including mercury.
  • Sale or commercial use of any mineral recovered by any person involved in gold panning.
  • Digging above existing stream water levels or disturbing the ground surface.
  • Undermining any vegetation, historical feature, or bridge abutment.

Are there any locations where gold panning is prohibited?

Yes, you cannot pan for gold along Clear Creek from the mouth of Paige Bar Creek to the Whiskeytown Environmental School Camp access road bridge over Clear Creek. This restriction is necessary to keep park visitors from disturbing educational programs at the environmental school.

Last updated: October 8, 2020

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P.O. Box 188
Whiskeytown , CA 96095


530 242-3400

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