Panning for Gold – Fun Cabin Activity

If you’re staying off-grid then I’d highly recommend you make the most of your opportunity and participate in some of the activities which wouldn’t be viable in the city. There’s plenty of activities which you could enjoy – I have a full section of cabin activities.

One activity which you simply cannot pass is gold panning! You don’t have to have a chest full of treasure for your kids to have a great time, mother nature will provide you with your treasure. Gold panning is simply extracting gold from deposits using a pan, it’s very simple and cheap activity.

Panning for gold can be a joyful activity for yourself and all the family. Though there’s a few things which you’ll need to consider and decide on when before you begin. In this article, I’ll be providing you with a guide to gold panning at your cabin.

Can I Pan for Gold at my Cabin?

Before you can begin panning for gold there’s a few things which you’ll need to consider beforehand. The question of “Can I pan for gold at my cabin” is the most important.

When you purchase some land, you don’t necessary also purchase the mineral rights. Often the property owner will sell mineral rights separately to the land unless you ask about it or let them know that you plan to harvest the minerals on the land. This means that you may not actually be able to pan for gold and keep the riches afterwards. In-fact, this applies for any mineral or resource on the land such as oil or wood from trees.

Bare in mind that the mineral rights could also be owned by the government or a private company. This makes it important to contact the appropriate authority to ensure that you have the rights to harvest the minerals on your property. You may be lucky enough to have been sold the mineral rights with your property. It’s a lot more common for rural properties to be sold with mineral rights than it is for urban properties, so you may be in luck with your cabin.

Despite all of this, you could probably get away with panning for gold in a stream by your property. It’s very unlikely that you’d be prosecuted for this, especially if you’re only doing it for fun with your friends/family as a recreational activity. It’d be different if you were doing it on a large scale to make money, as then if someone was to find out then they may make a claim for the gold which you’ve found. Bare in mind this article is intended for informational purposes only, not legal advice.

This is one of the benefits to purchasing a cabin by the water as opposed to in a forest.

Where to Pan for Gold

If you decide you’re going to participating in gold panning, then it’d be a good idea to identify a fruitful spot which you’ll be able to find a decent amount of gold. The whole point of gold panning, and the most enjoyable part is when you find gold. Therefore, for a fun session – you want to be in the best spot possible.

One of the biggest signs for gold is quartz rock. If you happen to have quartz on your property, then you’re in luck as the chances of you finding gold is significantly higher than if you didn’t. You’ll also need water; most gold panning is done in a river or stream. So, if you have quartz rock and a running stream on your property then that would be the most ideal location to begin panning for gold.

Despite this, you don’t necessarily have to have a running stream on your property. Another method of gold panning is to gather some quartz rocks and crush them into smaller pieces, if your pieces are already small them dump them into a bucket or container. Larger rocks will be difficult to break up, so I’d recommend using a hammer. Once you have a bucket full of small quartz rocks, fill up the bucket halfway with water and use a pan to scoop up some water and pieces of rock.

Though the second method isn’t as effective for finding gold, the process of finding rocks and crushing them up can be exciting for the kids. Next, I’ll be providing you with some ideal spots for finding gold.

Rivers and streams can be great locations to find gold. It’s a known fact that every river will contain at-least a little bit of gold. Though some rivers will have such little gold that it’s almost impossible to ever pan any. Debris builds up on the outside edges of bends in rivers and stream. In the debris you are likely to find small rocks and materials which could be panned for gold.

Small streams can be just as effective as large rivers for finding gold if they have sediment traps. Sediment traps can be found in a river where water runs rapidly but begins to calm down after it passes over a waterfall or small rapid.

Another way of finding gold is to use sandbars. When water slows down quickly, it deposits all the gold which it was carrying. This is because gold is a heavy material, heavier than other minerals which are likely to be in the river. When the water slows down, the gold will be the first mineral to be deposited whilst the other minerals are carried further down the stream.

What do I need to Start Panning for Gold?

Lucky for us, gold panning is a very inexpensive activity which will only set you back a couple bucks. This means that it’s provides amazing value for money. The amount of fun you’ll get is worth it. You can invest a little bit more money into the activity and get an even better experience. I’d highly recommend you investigate getting some quality equipment. I’ll list some items which you’ll need for gold panning and some items which I’d recommend you get to enhance your gold panning experiences. Though, if you wanted to make things as easy as possible for yourself and ensure that you have all of the equipment needed for gold panning then you should purchase this Gold Pan Kit.

  • Gold Pan: The most important piece of equipment you’ll need is a gold pan. This is an essential for gold panning. They’re very cheap so there’s no excuse to forget it. A gold pan is simply a rounded dish with slopes and ridges which keep heavy minerals in the pan whilst you swirl to get rid of debris. I’d recommend this Gold Pan.
  • Screen: The next piece of equipment that you’ll want to purchase is a screen. These are useful in filtering out large rocks. You use it when pouring gravel and sand into your pan, simply pour over the screen and shake it to filter out the larger rocks. There’s plenty of different screens you could use, I’d recommend this screen.
  • Magnet: Using magnets when gold panning is a well-known hack which allows you to separate materials easier. For example, a magnet can be used to help separate black sand and gold. Black sand is particularly known for being a pest in the final stages of gold panning, so a magnet makes life a whole lot easier. Any type of old magnet which you have laying around will work well.
  • Gold Vial and Snuffer bottle: Another piece of useful equipment would be a gold vial. This is simply a container to store your gold flecks into. It’s not an essential however it’s extremely cheap and can be very useful in carrying around your gold flecks whilst panning. It’d also be a good idea to purchase a snuffer bottle. This is a small bottle with a suction nose which allows you to pick up your small flecks of gold and store them into your gold vial.

How to Pan for Gold

Panning for gold isn’t a difficult nor complexed activity, it’s actually very simple and easy. Anyone can follow the simple steps to get started with gold panning – It’s an activity which anyone can participate in, it’s especially fun for children!

  • The First step in gold panning is filling up your pan with gravel and sand from a stream. (You’ll want to fill the pan to about 2/3).
  • Next you want to immerse the pain into water. Whilst doing so, you should separate the dirt using your fingers. It’s important that you break down any large clumps.
  • Now you want to shake your pan gently, you want to work the heavy materials in your mix to the bottom – this will cause you to have lighter materials on the top of your pan. Due to gold being a heavier mineral it will sink.
  • You should now be able to separate the larger minerals from your mix as they go up to the top. Using your finger, you should brush these aside and pick them out. If you had purchased and used the screen which I had recommended previously then this step won’t be necessary as you would have already gotten rid of the larger minerals. If you had shook the mixture enough, all the gold would have drowned to the bottom so you’re not accidently removing any gold when you remove the larger minerals.
  • Once you’ve removed all the larger minerals you’ll want to lift your pan from the water and shake the pan bath forth whilst tilting is slightly. You want to do this to get all the gold to the front of your pan. Keep in mind, the gold should still be at the bottom of the pan.
  • Lower the pan back into the water and gentle shake the pain so that the lighter minerals at the top of the pain are swept away back the moving water.
  • Dunk your back into the water and shaking it gently until another layer of lighter materials are brought up to the surface of the pan. At this point we’re still eliminating all the lighter materials from the mixture.
  • You should continue to repeat the steps 5-7 until you’ve removed all the unnecessary materials and you are only left with the heavier materials, black sand, and gold.
  • Now the last step in gold panning is picking the gold flecks from what’s left of the mixture. You should allow some water into the pan and gently swirl it so that the left-over materials spread out a little. If you purchased the Gold panning kit or gold vial and snuffer bottle which I recommended previously then this step will be a lot easier – simply use the snuffer bottle to pick up the golf flecks and drop them into your gold vial. Then you’re done!

To pick up gold flecks using the snuffer bottle, simply squeeze on the bottle gently and adjust the nozzle so that it’s gently pressed against a piece of gold. Release your grip on the bottle so that the pressure is released, and the bottle sucks up the fleck. Tilt the bottle slightly to allow the gold fleck to fall into it. Open your bottle by taking out the straw and cover the lid with the opening of your vial. Flip the bottle upside down and the gold flecks will fall into your vial.


If you have any questions would you’d like to ask, or you can any constructive criticism which will help me improve this gold panning guide, then feel free to leave a comment for me below. I’m always looking for ways to improve my articles.

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My name is Eugene Thornhill. I'm an outdoor enthusiast who loves nothing more than being one with nature. I've lived in numerous outdoor homes and even constructed my own. Living off-grid is something I'm very familiar with, more so than living in the city. For many years I've dealt with the many problems of living off-grid. It's time to pass on my knowledge through Cabinguides.

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