Gold panning and mining have been popular activities in Plumas County since the 1800s. Although most of the camps that sprang up during the gold rush are now gone, there are some spots where visitors can relive history and even find a few remaining flakes of gold.
Experienced gold panners with equipment are welcome to seek gold anywhere on public national forest land that has not been staked (usually where posted). However, since most of the land is staked, you'll need to do some research during the week at the County Recorder's office, which keeps mining claim locations on file.
A few areas exist where claims are not allowed and recreational gold panning is permitted. Contact the Plumas, Lassen and Tahoe National Forest offices for more details on gold panning regulations.
If you're interested in learning how to pan for gold on your own, the Plumas County Museum, located behind the courthouse in Quincy, has a good reference book for sale. The books explains how and where to pan, what equipment is needed, safety tips, and includes diagrams, drawings and photos. Equipment for gold panning can be purchased at area sporting goods and department stores.
The Golden Caribou Mining Association offers gold panning lessons and equipment usage for first time gold panners. It operates out of Caribou Crossroads Campground and Cafe, located on Caribou Road just off Highway 70, 27 miles west of Quincy. The club has more than 1,800 acres of gold mining claims in the Plumas National Forest, and offers memberships for vacationers, as well as one-year trial and lifetime memberships. The club provides access to the claims and training in panning, prospecting, metal detecting and dredging. Call (530) 283-5141 for more information or email GCMA2011@aol.com.
The Advanced Geologic Gold Prospector's Club based in Chester offers members access to claims throughout the county, along with equipment usage. Call (530) 258-4228 for more information.