Gold Panning in Alaska

The roots of gold panning in Alaska run deep. In August 1896, three men found gold in the Klondike River in the Yukon Territory of Canada. This small event would go on to not only set off a gold rush, but also shape people’s perceptions of Alaska.  

The Klondike gold rush lasted for about two years, enticing people to board ships that would take them to Skagway or Dyea. They would gather supplies and head off on a 600-mile journey on either the White Pass Trail or the Chilkoot Trail to reach the goldfields in Canada. About 20,000 to 30,000 people attempted the journey. The gold rush ended quickly, as most people realized that there was only a small chance of hitting it big. Many left to head to Nome, Alaska in 1899 when rumors began to spread of even more gold.  

The Nome gold rush began when three men, known as the “three lucky swedes”, discovered gold in Anvil creek near Cape Nome, Alaska in the fall of 1898. Many people arrived too late to stake claims near the creek, so they set up camp along the beach. It was there that some began gold panning the Alaska shoreline and discovered a large amount of gold at the beach. Within a few months about 20,000 people were living in Nome. It is estimated that in just the summer of 1899 about two million dollars of gold was found at the beach.   

Gold mining shaped Alaska as we know it today. Most major towns and cities in Alaska have been influenced in some way by it. And, while most gold is now gone, there are still ways to find some. Many companies offer gold panning tours that. Some streams you can spot gold flecks in the water. It is important to ensure that if you are going by yourself, you are panning in designated public lands and not on someone else’s claim. Here are some places with gold panning opportunities for the public:




• Crow Creek Mine

1896 marks the start of this family-owned mining operation. You can come visit by yourself or take a guided tour with a geologist to do some gold panning in Alaska. 


• Indian Valley Mine

Indian Valley mine was established in 1910. Visitors can tour the historic buildings and go gold panning near the mine.  




• Denali Gold Tours

This family owned gold panning Alaska tour will meet you at Trapper Creek and take you to the Cache Creek Area so as to spend your day panning for gold, eating reindeer dogs and hot dogs, and enjoying the beautiful Alaskan landscape.  





• Gold Dredge 8

This tour starts with a train ride on a replica of the Tanana Valley railroad. At the end of a ride you’ll get to visit an old dredge, actively mined at the site between 1927-1942. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the property as well as taking some time to go panning for gold.  


Glacier View 


• Caribou Creek Recreational Mining Area 

If you want to try gold panning yourself without a tour, then this is the spot for you. Located at mile marker 104 on the Glenn Highway this spot with a view of the Lionshead is perfect for those who want to give gold panning a try. All you need is a shovel and a gold pan. A half mile trail will take you down to the creek. 

Written By: Hope Macke