Nevada is currently the #1 gold producing state in the U.S. While the initial discovery occurred when gold was found near Gold Canyon near Virginia City, the later discovery of low grade deposits in 1961 by the Newmont Mining Corporation are what solidified Nevada as the most mineral rich state in the U.S. Known as the Carlin Trend deposits, these ores alone have more value than any other mineral resource in the country. For the modern day gold prospector, Nevada vast public lands provides excellent chances for future discoveries.
Gold can be found in every county in Nevada, though many of the gold deposits are so fine, such as the Carlin deposits mentioned above, that their extraction is out of reach for the average prospector. It would be wise to focus efforts in areas that are known to produce coarse sized gold, large enough to be captured by standard prospecting techniques such as panning, dry washing, and metal detecting.
It is also worth mention that Nevada is a very arid state, with limited water available. Much of the gold prospecting here is done with metal detectors and drywashers, since no water is required to extract the gold. Common methods like sluice boxes and suction dredges are of little use for most of the gold rich areas of this state.
In the northern part of the state, Humboldt County has been a prospector’s paradise for years. Gold can be found throughout the county, and it is well known for several rich areas that produce very large nuggets. Explore the Dutch Flats, Rebel Creek, Varyville and Winnemucca Districts, as all have produced several thousand ounces of gold. Using a metal detector around old drywash areas can be especially productive, as many gold nuggets were lost by the old timers using this method. The Awakening, Gold Run, Paradise Valley and Warm Springs Districts are were also large producers.
To the east in Elko County, numerous mining districts are found, each producing thousands of ounces of gold and silver. Most of the richest areas are in the northern part of the county, near the Idaho border and the surrounding the town of Mountain City. The Alder District near Wildhorse Reservoir was worked in the 1870’s. In the Aura District, placer gold can be found in Sheridan and Columbia Creeks. The Charleston District is located in the Jarbidge Range, with gold mining on 76 Creek, Badger Creek, and along the Bruneau River. Hammond and Coleman Canyons both produced placer gold. The Van Duzer District near the town of Mountain City produced significant amounts of gold, will several large gold nuggets being reported. Numerous other districts are scattered throughout the county, with most production coming from lode mining.
Pershing County is known to be one of the best mining areas in the state. Known for placers often near the surface, a significant amount of gold has been found here. The early miners used dry washers to hunt for gold, but many prospectors today prefer to use metal detectors to locate “patches” of nuggets not yet found. The well known Rye Patch Placers
is one of these areas, which has produced much gold since its initial discovery in 1938. Other productive placers include the Seven Troughs, Sawtooth, Placerites, and Rabbit Hole. These are favorites of metal detectorists since gold lays on bedrock only a few feet from the surface. Dun Glen and Willow Creeks are also rich placer gold areas. Much of the recorded gold here comes from lode mines. Other districts worth exploring include the Sierra, Rochester, Humboldt and Unionville Districts. The overall richness of this county almost guarantees that plenty of gold is left in the ground awaiting discovery.
White Pine County has good gold prospecting opportunities, and like the rest of the state, its remoteness and harsh climate has limited its exploration. No doubt there are many undiscovered mines yet to be found. In the northwest part of the county is the Bald Mountain District. Some large nuggets have been found here, but high elevation and little water has limited its exploitation. The Osceola District had seen extensive mining, including some
done in Dry Gulch. Several mines can be found in the viscinity of Ely, Nevada, which produce both lode and placer gold.
Nye County is one of the largest and most mineral rich counties in Nevada. Numerous gold districts are scattered throughout, and one of the largest gold mine in the U.S., the Round Mountain Gold Mine
, is located here. Water is definitely a limiting factor in this county, with most of the early mining done with drywashers. Much of the gold production from this county comes from lode mines. Some notable districts include the Manhattan
, Bullfrog, Jackson, Johnnie, Tonopah, Tybo, and Union. Numerous other districts can be found in Nye County, which have each produced thousands of ounces of gold as well as silver. This is a vast region with very rich mineral potential.
Mineral County, as you might expect from the name, has a rich mining history. The vast majority of gold from this area has come from lode deposits, and as a byproduct of silver mining. The Aurora, Candelaria, Garfield, Gold Range, and Hawthorne Districts were all producers. Lots of old-timer workings can be found in this county.
Lander County is home to the Battle Mountain District, where both lode and placer mining has produced significant gold. A favorite area to use a metal detector, large nuggets of several ounces can be found very near the surface. Bullion, Mud Springs, New Pass, and Reese River Districts are all worthy of investigation. Keep an eye out for silver ores.
In the southern corner of Nevada, both Clark and Lincoln Counties both have less mining activity than the central and northern parts of the state. Still, gold has been found here. Most has come as byproduct of large silver mines rather than from small scale placer mining. In Clark County, check out the Eldorado and Searchlight Districts. In Lincoln, the famous Delamar Mine is extremely productive, but all gold comes in the form of lode. The Eagle Valley District had a small amount of placering done, and may be worthy of investigation.
Eureka County is home to the Carlin Mine, one of the richest gold mines in the U.S. The Buckhorn, Eureka, and Maggie Creek Districts are all worth investigation. Lynn District, home to the Carlin Mine, is found in the Tuscarora Mountains and many creeks nearby have been placer mined.
Esmeralda County has an abundance of prospecting opportunities. South of Tonopah is the Goldfield District, which has produced several million ounces of gold from lode deposits. Check out the Divide, Klondyke, Silver Peak, Sylvania, Tokop, and Tule Canyon areas. Much of the gold came from lodes, but some placers were worked by the Chinese as early as the 1870’s.
Gold and silver are abundant throughout Nevada. Many of the smaller counties surrounding Reno and Carson City have excellent mining opportunities. In Storey County, the famous Comstock Lode produced fabulous amounts of both silver and gold. Lyon County is believed to be the home to the first gold discovery in Nevada, with continued productivity to this day. Douglas County has fewer gold deposits than its neighbors to the north, but gold can still be found here. In Washoe County, the Olinghouse District produced many thousand ounces of gold. Smaller prospects can be found throughout the county, but the overall gold production is less than most other areas of Nevada.
Also Read: Rare Gems and Minerals in Nevada
A few general points about prospecting in Nevada. Most prospectors today are searching for
, but it should be quite apparent that “The Silver State” has more than gold. Keep an eye out for rich ores that may have valuable silver and gold values. That strange rock that you kick out of the way when you are gold prospecting might be the key to the discovery of the next multi-million dollar silver mine. Also, much of the gold in Nevada is actually Electrum, a gold/silver alloy that has a much duller gold color. Don’t ever toss an unknown metal away until you are sure of what it is.
It is also worth emphasizing that Nevada is one of the most sparsely populated states in the U.S. It has an extremely harsh climate, with cold winters and hot summers. Water can be hard to find in many places. Rough roads, snakes, cactus, mountain lions, are all present here. Use extreme caution when venturing into Nevada’s extensive backcountry.