Northern Nevada Gold Prospecting

Northern Nevada has attracted miners for well over a century. The region is rich with gold, and the isolation of some of the best gold districts make it a truly special place for anyone who wants to get away from it all.

Although gold can be found in all counties in the state of Nevada, the northern part of the state is quite rich and is worthy of special attention. Elko, Humboldt, and Pershing Counties are especially popular for prospectors using metal detectors since good sized gold nuggets are frequently found here.

Elko County

Elko County probably gets the least amount of attention among these three counties, but it certainly has its fair share of gold nuggets. A few areas worthy of note are:

Mountain City is located about 80 miles north of Elko, and significant mining has taken place in this area since the 1870s. Placers were worked in the Owyhee River, and at Grasshopper Gulch and Hansen Gulch. Many lode mines are scattered in the rugged mountains around Mountain City, and gold here is often free-milling type that is coarse enough to be found with metal detectors. Production records for this area were very poor and the total amount of gold to come from this region is unknown. There is no doubt plenty of gold yet to be found here.

The Aura District is found in the heart of the Bull Run Mountains. The old-timers worked placers in Blue Jacket, Columbia, and Sheridan Creeks, but water limited work in many of the dry gulches in the area. Rich lodes were also worked to some extent.



The Charleston District is found on the southern flanks of the Jarbidge Mountains. Placers were worked in the Bruneau River as well as Badger Creek, Pennsylvania Gulch, and Union Gulch.

The Tuscarora District is located on the south flanks of Mount Blitzen in the Independence Mountains. This area was known for both lode and placer deposits, and sizeable gold nuggets and specimens were found here.

Van Duzer District comprised of an area that included Van Duzer Creek, a tributary to the Owyhee River. Several large nuggets were discovered here from early hydraulic mining operations.



Humboldt County

The Dutch Flat area is located not far from Winnemucca, about 20 miles to the northeast of town. Located on the slopes of the Hot Springs Mountains, this areas was worked by early prospectors exclusively by drywashing due to the lack of water. The advent of metal detectors saw much more gold come out of this area in recent decades. Overall production is highly speculative, but this area certainly holds good potential for more gold.

The Rebel Creek District is located in the Santa Rosa Mountains. Gold was recovered in Willow, Rebel, and Pole Creeks. Considerable lode deposits were also found and mined here.

The Varyville Mining District is in the Pine Forest Mountains north of the Black Rock Desert. Work has been done on Teepee, Snow, and Leonard Creeks. Production is unknown.

Humboldt County is quite rich, yet its full potential may never be realized due to its size and the sporadic nature of gold deposits in this environment. Often these eolian type gold deposits are not economically viable today, yet an individual prospector using a metal detector can still find considerable gold deposits that have been virtually untouched.

Pershing County

For prospectors armed with metal detectors, Pershing County is probably one of the best areas in all of the western United States. Considerable gold has been found here, often in nugget form, and easily found near the surface with metal detectors. Drywashing in areas of historic diggings will also produce some good gold.

Perhaps the best known goldfield in the United States is the Rye Patch area near Imlay. Located a few miles west of Rye Patch Reservoir and east of Majuba Mountain, this area was first discovered in the 1930s. The gold bearing area was expansive, covering many miles over an arid flat with no water. This restricted the use of only dry methods of mining for early miners. In recent decades, this area has been hunted hard with metal detectors. First with smaller VLF detectors, and then later with more powerful pulse induction detectors.

There are certainly other areas in Pershing County with gold though. Another rich area is the Seven Troughs District, located in the mountain range of the same name. This is primarily a lode mining area, but placer gold can be found in gulches around Seven Troughs.

The Sawtooth District is located near Sawtooth Knob. Another rich gold-bearing area, gold is often shallow and can be found on false bedrock at relatively shallow depths, making it a prime location to use both drywashers and metal detectors.

The Rabbit Hole, or Rosebud Mining District is just northwest of Rabbit Hole Spring. This area was worked intermittently for many years up through the Great Depression. Good placer deposits, including very sizable gold nuggets have been unearthed here.

Are these the only places where gold can be found in northern Nevada? Hardly! There are literally thousands places were a prospector could search for gold here. In fact, many prospectors today are having success by exploring in areas that are well outside of the well-known gold areas that the old-timers worked many years ago.

By studying the geology of known gold districts and exploring nearby areas, there is still excellent potential to find good gold in northern Nevada.

It may still be one of the best places in the United States to look for gold.