Gold can be found in most rivers & streams in America if you know where to look and how to get it. The first challenge to finding a Placer Gold deposit is knowing where to look and Geology is one of the many tools miners can use to help us find Placer Gold because without the right Geology there won’t be any Gold. Historical Gold Mining Districts are also a great place to start to help narrow down your search where to find Placer Gold. This website will mainly focus on where to find Placer Gold and the correlation between Load Gold, Placers, and Geology.

Lode Gold is a Gold deposit that is still in its native form.

Hard Rock Mining is the process where you mine the Load Gold in its native form using drills, explosives, and other mining equipment like it’s been done for over a hundred years and is still being done today.

Mining District is an area with boundaries and worked under rules and regulations set forth by the miners of similar mining operations. Gold mines made up most of the known Historial Mining Districts in the United States but they could include other valuable resources also. Download for free from the U.S.G.S. “Principal gold-producing districts of the United States – Professional Paper 610”

Placer Gold is Load Gold that has been liberated from its source by external forces such as weatherization, erosion, and will eventually end up in or near a river or stream where we find the Placer Gold today. Placer Gold can also be found in unusual locations that do not have any water today. Something to keep in mind while searching for Placer Gold is that rivers & streams have not always been located where we find them today and their paths could have been changed a lot over time. Locating old rivers & stream channels can still have plenty of Placer Gold that nobody has found yet.

Time can play a huge part in where Placer Gold is located today and how much Placer Gold you may be able to find. Over millions of years, many rivers & streams have cut through the bedrock Geology like at the Grand Canyon and changed the elevation of the water and that is where we can find ancient Bench Placers well above the current locations of today rivers & streams.

Geology also plays a big part in where to look for Placer Gold and how much Placer Gold you might potentially find. Since the Gold Rush during the mid-1800’s most watersheds in America that contain rivers & streams have been well prospected by Gold miners for Load & Placer Gold. The Geology needs to be right before you can find any Gold.

Watersheds are physical land containers where Load & Placer Gold can be found. Once Load Gold has been liberated from its native source somewhere in the watershed it starts its journey downhill towards the rivers & streams where we find the Placers today. The transportation of the liberated Load Gold to the Placer locations can take only a few years to hundreds of millions of years. The Load Gold transportation process is always ongoing which is why a Placer can be recharged with additional Gold over time. Wild Fires within a Watershed can also help speed up the liberated Load Gold transportation process due to frequent landslides which can move lots of material a long distance in a short period of time.


Load Gold in Oregon can be found in two main areas, Eastern Oregon in Baker & Grant Counties and in Southern Oregon in Jackson, and Josephine Counties thanks to their great Geology. There were some other minor mining districts in Oregon but their production was very minor compared to Eastern and the Southern Oregon Mines. At the beginning of WWII all non-essential mining was halted by the Government and after the War was over the cost of reopening these smaller Load mines was too much for what little Gold remained. Some Placer gold can be found in most if not all of the mining districts in Oregon.

Placer Gold in Oregon can be found in the rivers & streams that run through the mining districts and on many of the beaches in Oregon. Placer Gold can also be found on ancient Bench Placers located above where the current rivers & streams are today.

You can find very fine Placer Gold in the Columbia River around Portland, Oregon as well as other locations upstream and downstream from Portland. Look for the thin layers of the black sand along the river bank which may include some red to purple layers of finely ground garnets and pan that material. Placer Gold along the Columbia River is extremely fine and it will test your Gold panning skills.

Beach Gold can be found along the Oregon Coast around Gold Beach in Southern Oregon and Beverly Beach just a few miles North of Newport. A great Oregon Beach Mining reference publication “Beach Placers of the Oregon Coast” can be downloaded for free from the U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.).


In Washington to mine for Placer Gold using a gold pan or sluice box, you will need to have a copy of the current “Gold and Fish: Rules for Mineral Prospecting and Placer Mining” with you while your mining which you can download for free. Using a motorized or suction dredge outside of “Gold and Fish: Rules for Mineral Prospecting and Placer Mining” rules will require an HPA permit. Gold mining rules & regulations are continually being updated so check with the (WDFW) back often.

Load Gold in Washington was found in several Gold Mining Districts around the State.

Placer Gold in Washington can be found in the rivers & streams that run through the well-known Washington Gold mining districts and on a few beaches in Washington. Placer Gold can also be found on ancient Bench Placers located above the current rivers & streams today.

Beach Gold in Washington can be found at the mouth of the Columbia River where it deposits Placer Gold into the ocean at Cape Disappointment State Park. Beach Gold is typically very concentrated for the amount of material you will need to process and will be found in the heavy black sands along Benson Beach. Before you go Beach Mining in Washinton check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for the latest Beach mining regulations and permits that are needed and what equipment can be used.

Revised 05-25-2022