Gold Prospecting Near Albuquerque, NM

The hills around Albuquerque have small amounts of gold that can be found by prospectors. This part of New Mexico is not as rich as many others, but there are a handful of mining districts surrounding Albuquerque in Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Valencia Counties.

Small quantities of placer gold deposits were found on the sides of the Sandia Mountains, which extended from north to south through all three of these counties. The existence of these placers has already been known for about two hundred years, as several legends related the engagement of Spanish explorers in mining these respective locales, and perhaps, prospecting for placer gold.

However, there limited information about the specific locations, magnitude, or value of these placer deposits. Commercial mining endeavors over the years would indicate that the extent of the gold here is limited.





The Hell Canyon region denoted the southern portion of the Sandia Mountains on the Isleta Pueblo Land Grant. It is accessed from Albuquerque, going about 13 miles south on U.S. Interstate 25 towards Isleta Pueblo in Bernalillo County. Dirt roads from this point lead east to Hell Canyon. Placers were found in the gorge gravels along Hell Canyon and other dry washes in the region. At the western end of the Milagras group of patented claims, a narrow strip of placer ground has been also discovered, and gold ores were being mined. Gold mining in these property claims was believed to be where the gold in the region was derived.

The Placitas-Tejon region referred to the northern end of the Sandia Mountains in Sandoval County. The region is reached from Albuquerque City, driving north on the U.S. Interstate 25 towards State Highway 44; where a roadway heads east to Placitas.

Placer gold existed in the stream beds of cemented gravels of Las Huertas Creek and Tejon Canyon at the northern end of the Sandia Mountains surrounding the Placitas and Tejon regions. Be aware that there is Wilderness in this area which does not allow prospecting.

Always make sure that you are in an area that is legal to prospect. When in doubt, contact the local BLM or Forest Service in the area and get proper direction.

The Tijeras Canyon region was pointed out to be the central portion of the Sandia Mountains. The region can be accessed from Albuquerque, heading about 18 miles east on U.S. Highway 66 towards Tijeras Canyon. Unfortunately, Tijeras Canyon is now part of the Sandia military base and is inaccessible to the public.

Gold was said to be found in the dry streams around Tijeras Canyon and the alluvial or gold-bearing flat areas between the Sandia Mountains and Albuquerque City on the west. The gold was presumably derived from small quartz deposits. The mineralization process was partly composed of native gold in the oxidized parts of the veins.

The richer areas to prospect for gold in New Mexico are a distance away from Albuquerque. Many people have difficulty finding gold in this state because the gold distribution can be spotty, and generally the placer gold occurrences are very fine.

Read about some other well-known mining areas in New Mexico:

Gold Mining in New Mexico eBook

Gold Prospecting near Hillsboro, NM

Drywashing for Gold