Since the dawn of time men have been driven to search the Earth for gold. Combing the hillsides and creek beds for this precious yellow metal is a fun and rewarding pastime for kids of all ages that are willing to do the work.

Step one in prospecting is research. Before you even purchase a gold pan there are important things you need to know.

First and foremost, find out where it is legal to pan for gold in your area. Even on public lands, many areas have established claims where the mineral rights are solely owned by individuals. Just because you are in a National Forest or on land managed by the BLM does NOT mean that the gold there is fair game. Prospecting on an established gold claim without permission is against the law and punishable by fines and even jail time. Check with your local County Clerk to find out where mineral claims are already staked and what might be available.

Some owners of gold bearing lands allow prospecting for a fee and this is often the best place for beginners to start. Contacting a prospecting club or local geology company will ensure you are in the right place to join the adventure. Northern California has several businesses in this field including Advanced Geologic in Chester and Adventures in Prospecting in Oroville.This method allows you a chance to try your hand at gold panning before you spend a lot time and money.

There are few things as thrilling as finding your first bit of gold. Let your first adventure be the best that it can be. Do your homework and plan before you pan.