A french needs advices plz

fouinaldo

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hello everyone, i need some advice please. I would like to organize a trip to your beautiful country for my brother's birthday, who is turning 50 next year. he is keen on gold panning and dreams of doing it in Alaska. we are used to doing this in France as a leisure activity but I have absolutely no idea how to proceed at home, nor the most suitable place. after doing research it seems that Fairbanks because of its climate is favorable. could you give me advice on places, transport, accommodation please? all advice is good to take! thank you very much
 

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The first thing you should do is go to the website for the Alaska Dept of Natural Resources Mining Division. They have all of the rules and regulations on mining in Alaska. They also have information on public areas where you can look for gold and a mapping app that shows you what land is already claimed. The last part if VERY important. Because almost all of the land worth looking for gold is already claimed by someone which means you can't pan there without their permission.

If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. So your best bet for your friend is to stick to the areas defined as Public Recreational Mining. The state owns the mineral rights in those areas and anyone can look for gold. My personal favorite Public Recreational Mining area is Petersville Creek which is just south of Denali Park (well south of Fairbanks). It's a gorgeous place and you will find gold.

Transportation will probably be a rental car.

Accommodations will probably be renting an RV or tent camping unless you can find a cabin for rent in the area you'll be. My favorite recreational area (Petersville) is about an hour's drive (10mph down a rough gravel road) from the nearest paved road or accommodation. So you either camp where you're mining or you're going to be doing a lot of driving to get there and back every day.

Good luck and I hope you have fun!!
 
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fouinaldo

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Hello, thank you for your answers. I could see that the most favorable period for us concerning the climate (which is important for us who live in the south of France, and for our stay of 10 or 15 days to be pleasant) is the month of June . We are used to camping but are the temperatures mild at night? Are we allowed to camp without permission? Isn't there a grizzly??? Because at home, we just fear spiders and ants . My wife and I had a fine of 120€ simply for having slept with our children for 1 night on the banks of the Ardèche! Can prospecting equipment be rented? A big thank you for your answers !
 

kwackkillncrew

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there and brown and black bears all over, just dont always see them. You can pick up a few cans of bear spray that you can put on your belt when you are out panning. Temperatures are going to vary depending on where you are but typically in june temps will during the day will be 60-80 degrees and at night 45-60. I would give alaska mining and diving a call (its a store in anchorage) and they will be able to answer most if not all of you questions about mining up here. They sell gear but i am not sure if they rent it or not. I dont know much about gold mining but if youre just panning you really only need a shovel, bucket and a pan right?
 

Brian M

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Alpine Creek Lodge offers gold mining tours. I'd give them a call and see if that might be a good option for you. Beautiful location, nice lodging, friendly hosts - that's where I would start unless you're set on doing this on your own.
 

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As was said above, there are black and brown bear pretty much everywhere.

June up by Fairbanks is still a bit cold. Plus mining sites are generally in valleys that don't get sun. I've gone up to my mining site in June only to find it covered by a foot of ice and when I wake up my wetsuit is frozen solid. So if you're going that far north you should probably come in late June at the earliest.

Good advice above on visiting Alaska Mining and Diving. Great group of people who will answer any question you have and set you up with the right gear. I don't believe they rent gear but they may have used gear to save some money.

I would add a hand sluice to kwackkillncrew's list of minimum gear.
 

JEH97LX

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If you just want to be a tourist, then do a gold panning tours with Crow Creek Mine in Girdwood Alaska or Gold Daughters in Fairbanks, Alaska. In a couple hours, you've done gold panning in Alaska and can do other tourism and site seeing. There's plenty to see and do while still checking the gold panning in Alaska box.

If you really want to camp, see more remote locations, and prospect for several days and "do it yourself" (DIY) then here are some ideas:
  • Fly to Anchorage, AK. It is more central, on the road system, and has better options for purchasing camping gear and easy to access recreational prospecting locations. There are also sightseeing and tourism options (Museums, downtown, train ride to Seward or Talkeetna, fish charters and boat tours in Homer, Seward, and Whittier, etc).
  • Fairbanks has better historical mining (dredge, mining-related musuems, old equipment), gold panning tourism, and perhaps serious gold mining/prospecting opportunities if you were looking to lease a claim for the summer, but I don't know of any good, easy to access recreational prospecting options near Fairbanks.
  • Rent a large, American SUV with high clearance and 4WD, especially if you have 3-4+ people and you want to go camping and gold prospecting (sluice box takes up space, so does camping equipment). They are expensive, but you might enjoy the experience and it's easier to get to places like Petersville or tow a small RV trailer. If you are staying mostly on paved roads, a minivan might also work great.
  • If you want to camp in a tent for multiple days, buy your Alaska gear in Anchorage. Stores like REI, Cabela's, Bass Pro are big box stores with many options. It may rain and in June we often see temps down to 5 Celsius (~40F degrees) day or night, and in the mountains like near Petersville it could drop to freezing overnight. Kenai and Anchorage rarely see temperatures much above 22C (70F). Bugs are real in remote areas, get bug nets.
  • Gold prospecting equipment in Anchorage: AMDS or Alaska Mine and Diving Store (Cabelas might have some options, AMDS is better)
  • Don't bother with dredging equipment, highbankers, or pumps, they require permits and time and are a lot more expensive. Find the right recreational mine would be your best option, there are probably some out there, but they come and go.
  • Keep it simple equipment list for 2-4 people: bring or purchase 2-3 gold pans, 2-3 sniffer bottles, a couple gold vials, one or two half inch (about 12.7 mm mesh) classifers or sieves that fit on a 5 gallon bucket, hand scoop, shovel(s), and a small backpacker sluice (eg Keene A51 mini sluice, or if you can find a folding sluice, perhaps be able to take it home if you have room). You can probably get all that for $300 or less. Perhaps on last day of prospecting, when you are done, just give what you can't take home to a friendly prospector you meet (anyone will take a shovel and buckets).
  • Hardware stores like Home Depot, Lowes, or AIH will have shovels and buckets
  • You'll probably need thigh or chest waders to access streams or gravel bars, don't dig in vegetated stream banks.
  • Recreational Areas: Kenai Peninsula (1-2 hr drive south of Anchorage) is mostly Federal land here is the guide. Great for tent camping, there are a few places to stay, but not many near the gold prospecting areas (a lodge or two, perhaps some cabins). Easy day trip from Anchorage. I recommend Resurrection Creek recreational gold panning area in Hope, Alaska to start out. You can camp in recreational area, but most locations fill up with recreational gold prospecters. Porcupine Campground near Hope, AK is very nice (for Alaska) and you can make reservations there or other federal campgrounds.
  • Petersville Recreational Mining Area is north of Anchorage about 3 hrs drive. The last hour (~30 miles) is on dirt or rough roads that will probably require high clearance. You can camp in the recreational area, good spots are often occupied by long term recreational prospectors, especially in June. Or stay in a cabin, I highly recommend Gates Creek Cabins and drive to the recreational area for the day. You can also drive to Talkeetna for tourism, train rides, etc.
  • Caribou Creek Recreational Mining Area is off the Glenn Highway is another option, but not good for camping without a drive and limited access. Glacier View nearby probably has a couple lodges or cabins to stay in.
  • Outside of the recreational areas, most streams and rivers can be panned legally, but there isn't much gold in most, so probably not worth it. If there is much gold, it's probably claimed or private property.
  • It's a lot of work and digging to find any gold, unless you are very lucky. A couple days of digging with a sluice will probably yield enough gold to swirl around and see, but not much value. Sluicing is about 10X faster than just gold panning, so it's worth trying if you haven't.
I'm not going to get detailed on camping gear as the sky's the limit, if you aren't an avid tent camper, perhaps stay in vacation rentals, lodges, hotels, cabins, etc, or just stick with gold panning tours. For camping, I wouldn't worry about bears, just be bear aware and probably carry bear spray if you are hiking a lot or hanging around salmon streams. Also, moose are probably more dangerous than bears.

Anyways, good luck and hope you come to visit Alaska.
 

fouinaldo

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Hello everyone and thank you very much for all your answers and advice. Despite everything, I will need time to exploit your answers and look at everything, consider everything. That's why I take it a year in advance. My brother and I love nature, we want to isolate ourselves as much as possible but it seems very simple for you :) in France, demography is important... For the rest, we don't want to make a fortune, just find some glitter with our feet in the water in this splendid setting. Why not a grain of rice :) we use buckets, sieves, shovels, pans and ramps. But where it gets complicated for me is that the permissions and tolerances of these are so different between our two countries! It will take me time to use all your answers and plan the best possible stay. But I can't see myself defending myself with a spray against a bear loool. A few more questions please: are campfires allowed? Suppose we find ourselves by mistake on a private concession, what do we risk? Can we find gold everywhere in Alaska or only in specific places? thank you
 

Brian M

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Campfires are usually allowed. But if there is really dry, hot weather, sometimes fires are prohibited. But usually fires are fine.

Don't worry too much about bears. Yes, they are here. But in 44 years in Alaska, I have only been in three or four situations with bears where I felt like I was truly in danger. On a short visit you will be fine. If you see one, give them space.
 

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The list JEH97LX provided is excellent. Just a few notes:
Permits: If you want to use motorized equipment (gear can be found used on craigslist or new at Alaska Mining & Diving), the permits are no problem. There's a Division of Mining office in Anchorage it only takes 5 minutes and it's free. Plus you'd probably love the taxidermy in the lobby!! Some Recreational areas may not allow motorized equipment, but the people where you get your permit are very friendly and helpful.​
Streams and rivers: You can pan within 50 feet of the road centerline on any stream or river. That's public. Beyond 50 feet it could be claimed already. So I'd stick with the Recreational areas unless you have time to research an area and verify with the Division of mining (or the AKMapper app from their website) that it's not claimed. A good rule to follow - if it's in good gold country and worth mining, it's probably claimed.
As Brian said, don't worry about the bear. I keep a very clean camp (food never near my tent and in bear proof storage) and carry bear spray most of the time but my first defense is noise. They generally prefer to stay away from humans so if you make noise when you're hiking you should be fine.

While "rice grain" sized gold can be found around Anchorage but it's not common. The further north you go the bigger the gold.
 

kasilofchrisn

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As a recreational prospector who has been doing this here in Alaska for many years hears my thoughts.
My first choice as was listed above would be to go to Crow Creek mine in Girdwood.
If you know how to pan and are somewhat familiar with general prospecting that's a great place to go that still has good gold and easy access.
It's a pay to dig mine but the fees really are negligible. Especially compared to going on a guided tour.
Plus you're guaranteed not to be messing around on someone else's mining claim and no permits are required there.
My second choice would be to go to the Hope area to the recreational mining area that that the Chugach national Forest has set aside for the public to use.
No permits are required here unless you're using motorized equipment and it's a free permit you just have to pick it up and have it on your person.
My third choice for you would be to go to Bertha Creek campground and play around in the panning area there. It's also an area set aside for recreational miners.
Also no permits required unless you're running motorized equipment.
These areas offer camping and you have a very good chance of finding gold there.
If you have some experience under your belt on how to run a pan and sluice box I really don't see the point in paying extra fees for some form of guided tour.
Particularly if you wanted to do one or two weeks of panning that would get very expensive with a tour guide every day.
I believe Crow Creek mine even rents small equipment so you could rent yourself a sluice box or other equipment to use for the day and process more material than you can with a pan.
Gold mining is a fun and rewarding hobby!
 

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My second choice would be to go to the Hope area to the recreational mining area that that the Chugach national Forest has set aside for the public to use.


Does the Resurrection Recreational Mining Area still exist? It was my understanding that it was eliminated when they restored that section of the river. It's also no longer listed on the state website as a rec mining area. I'm only seeing Caribou, Petersville and and Hatcher Pass.
 

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fouinaldo

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Thanks you everyone for your answers, i need to study... Thks a lot
 

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Gold Panning: Guide to Recreational Gold Panning on the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Alaska (blm.gov)

According to BLM, the Resurrection is still open. The above PFD is dated 2018 but I see no changes. I've searched a bit and information is scarce. But that same link is on three different sites. Another good link below.

Alaska - Minerals Program | Bureau of Land Management (blm.gov)


I called the Division of Mining who forwarded me to the Alaska BLM (it's federal property). They said "as far as we know" the 2018 brochure you provided a link to is current.

So it looks like that Recreational Mining Area is still open.

And I'm glad it is as that was the first place I tried dredging and it got me hooked on gold prospecting. It also made me realize it's all a matter of "throughput" when I saw how little dirt my 3" dredge moved in comparison to larger dredges. By the next summer I had a 6" dredge. :grin4:
 
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