Gold Prospecting near Reno, Nevada

Reno is a fantastic area to live if you like to prospect for gold. The city is near some of the richest mining areas in the United States. In fact, it is centrally located between the goldfields of Northern Nevada and California’s Motherlode Country.

The Comstock Lode was also near Reno. This was the famous silver discovery that really put Nevada on the map.

Below are some of the gold bearing areas near Reno, Nevada where you can still find gold today using a gold pan, metal detector, or drywasher.



Washoe County

Little Valley District, Peavine and Galena Districts are a few placer mining districts within Washoe County. Most of their production records indicate minimal findings.

The Peavine placers were primarily worked from the 1870s to 1890s, and the extents of the placers are limited. The areas has received very little attention from commercial interests, though a small-scale prospector may still be able to recover some fine gold here.

The best-known and most productive in the county was the Olinghouse District. Most of the gold is found on an alluvial basin around 1 mile long and half a mile wide as well as in a tributary ravine situated to the north of Olinghouse Canyon and to the south of Green Hill.

Gravels in this area are estimated to be around 20 feet deep and gold is concentrated in the lower 5-6 feet of gravel directly above the bedrock.

The Olinghouse Mine produces some very collectable gold specimens with unique crystalline structure, but most of the gold-bearing ground is claimed up.

Lyon County

Lyon County has seen some minor gold production from its Buckskin District and the Yerington District. The Buckskin District has seen small amounts of placers in the lower hills between Lincoln Flat and Smith Valley. Recorded production is small however; around 75 ounces were produced for 1939 -1941 and another estimated $9,000 USD from 1934-1935.

The gold in this district is thought to come from local erosion of bedrock veins. This area doesn’t get much attention from gold prospectors today.

The Yerington district placers are located in a stream channel on the Singatse Range. Similar to the Buckskin district, production in the Yerington district is relatively minor, with estimates of gold mined in 1931 by the Penrose placers to average 60 cents per cubic yard.

There are many scattered lode deposits in Lyon County that are on near the edge of the famous Comstock deposits. Geological indicators are similar and nearly all productive ores produce both silver and gold together. Sometimes placers can be located in the dry gulches nearby to the hillside mines and prospects. Often these deposits were overlooked by the early miners in the area or were passed over due to spotty distributions of gold, meaning that there may be little or no sign of historic mining yet there may be good amounts of gold waiting to be found.

Arid conditions will require specific dry mining methods such as drywashing to effectively recover gold from these areas. Prospecting many areas is critical to locate areas that are productive. Crushing ore to identify free-milling fine gold deposits may be worthwhile in areas that had significant lode mining take place.



Storey County

Of course, Storey county is extremely rich due to the famous Comstock Lode deposits that were discovered here. But the earliest discoveries of gold here did not excite many miners. The placer gold discoveries were not particularly rich, and there was a troublesome darkish material that would clog sluice boxes and made placer mining for gold rather difficult. It wasn’t until this substance was later identified as silver that the true richness of the Comstock region was realized.

Placer gold locations in the Comstock District are recovered primarily from gravels in the drainages or tailings in the mining area, but it is the hard rock sources of both gold and silver that really put this region on the map as a major producer.

Carson City

When silver and eventually gold was discovered in the nearby Comstock Lode, Carson City's population boomed. This was largely due to its proximity to the Comstock Lode as well as the rich gold country in Northern California.

The Genoa Mining District is located on the eastern side of the Carson range. The placers around Genoa have spotty distribution, and are said to be located in tertiary gravels to the west of the town of Genoa. This area saw gold and silver lodes extensively prospected in the 1960s, but the lodes were deemed of insignificant economic value.

The Silver City District placers are amongst the most productive in the area. This area is thought to be where the first discoveries of gold were made in Nevada in 1849, in the junction of Gold Canyon and the Carson River. The Gold Canyon area has quartz veins where gold can be found towards the head of the vein.

These early discoveries in the Silver City district eventually led to the opening of the Ophir Mine and the mining of the Comstock Lode. A rich lode of silver ore on the eastern slope of Mount Davidson, Comstock Lode sparked one of the first major silver rushes.

The source of the gold from the Carson River district is attributed to old mill tailings from the treatment of the old Comstock ores. Mining is said to be most productive on the gravels along the Carson River.

Douglas County

One area to find gold would be on the major fork of Buckeye Creek. Most of the placer activity is concentrated at or around the Slater Placer Mine. Placers in this area are composed of rock, gravels and sand debris and the gold found is both fine and coarse.

Extensive prospects are found in the Pine Nut Range west of Mineral Peak along the Douglas/Carson City border. Ores here produce both silver and gold, and small placers can be found in many of the drainages near hillside prospects.

Limited placer occurrences are found in many of the drainages that flow into the Carson River near Genoa. Small gold and silver lodes were prospected in the area during the 1860s and were considered to be of limited economic value compared to the nearby discoveries in the Comstock. The Best Places to Find Gold Near Reno

Although the above mentioned areas all have gold, if you are really serious about finding good amounts of gold, you might want to travel a bit further out of Reno. Just a few hours to the northeast are the famous Rye Patch Placers, where countless gold nuggets have been found with metal detectors.

And if you venture to the west there is the Mother Lode of California, undoubtedly one of the richest gold-bearing areas in the United States. On the western flanks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, nearly every river and creek has potential to produce gold.

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