Gold Panning in Downtown Denver and Surrounding Areas

Gold Panning in Downtown Denver and Surrounding Areas
If you like to prospect for gold, and wanted to live in a major city, I can’t think of a better place to be than Denver.

No other major city is literally built on top of gold like Denver is. Many of the creeks that flow right through the surrounding foothills, suburbs, and yes, even right through downtown carry gold.

The the major mining areas are west of the city, in places like Blackhawk, Central City, and Idaho Springs. But there is also gold right in the Denver metro area, and we’re going to take a quick look at a few places that you can pan the gravels and find some gold right outside of the city.


South Platte River


This might be surprising to some, but the South Platte River flowing right through the city does indeed have gold! In fact, it has pretty decent gold deposits if you locate the right spot.

Access to the river is actually pretty darn good, with good trail systems and parks adjacent to the river.

Seek out lands that are owned by the Parks & Recreation department. Lots of people prospect on these areas and there are no rules disallowing it. Just keep in mind, you are in the city so it is in your best interest to keep a low profile.

Find a nice quiet area and set up a sluice box. Do enough digging and you will recover some nice “colors.”

Also Read: How to Recover Fine Gold


Cherry Creek


Cherry Creek is another place for the urban prospector to check out. In fact, this was one of the first places that gold was discovered in Colorado. Obviously there isn’t much mining taking place here nowadays, but the area is open to non-motorized prospecting.

This is a little different than most creeks you have prospected. Cherry Creek is a bit more reminiscent of a canal these days, as it flows right through the heart of downtown, underneath all the roads and buildings. On the plus side, a trail gives you great access.

The creek is pretty sanded up, which is a problem. Your best bet for finding gold will be to look for black sand “paystreaks” that concentrate after high water events, or behind the occasional obstruction. Gold here is almost always fine textured. Challenging to recover even in the best of conditions.


Clear Creek


Clear Creek is another tributary that drains into the South Platte River just north of Denver near Welby. The history of gold here is a bit more significant, primarily up at Idaho Springs. But there is gold all the way down to the confluence.

There are two places on Clear Creek that are worth special note. One is Arapahoe Bar in Wheat Ridge. This is a great spot and set aside just for prospecting, although there are plenty of hikers and bicyclists around too. This is a nice little oasis right in the heart of an urban setting. The creek is also downstream from the Coors plant, so the water can actually be warm during the winter making it a nice spot to hit during the offseason.

Although it is outside of Denver, it’s also worth mentioning Clear Creek Canyon Park just west of Golden gives public access to roughly 10 miles of gold-bearing waters.


Open Land Access


I say this to all prospectors, but it is especially worth mentioning when prospecting in the city. Be respectful of others. Clean up trash an other messes. Fill in holes. Keep a low profile. Just because you are legal now doesn’t mean things can’t change. All it takes is a few careless people to ruin it for a lot of people.

Right now there are a lot of good accesses for prospectors. The areas mentioned above should give you a good starting point, but even more research and you will be able to fine even more areas. A good amount of Parks & Rec land, open county land, and generally ignored areas provide plenty of areas to dip a pan in the water.

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