Going Gold Panning

Archived Q&A and Reviews

February 2002

My almost 7 year old wants to go gold mining/panning. Any recommendations of where to do it , with whom and where to stay with a three year old in tow as well? Are there other things to do around there as well? We're thinking about going in May. Thanks. Linda

A great place to pan for gold is at Columbia State Park in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Columbia was an important mining town and it has been completely preserved. You can pan for gold, visit a school house, a jail, a Wells Fargo Bank office, a candy store, a saloon, etc. You can also take a stagecoach ride. I went with my daughter's fourth grade class and the trip was really fun. The AAA guide book talks all about it. Frances

I've visited Columbia one time, however I didn't do the gold panning, but I could see people doing it. Columbia is about 3 hours from Berkeley. Here is the web site to the gold panning: http://www.sierra.parks.state.ca.us/matelot.html I think the main web site tells about other things to do there: http://www.sierra.parks.state.ca.us/ Click on Columbia, then click on Start Your Tour I've heard about a stagecoach ride where cowboys or bandits come and rob the tourists on the stagecoach. Might be fun for some. -Anonymous

This info is maybe 4 years old: A few years ago we went to the County Fair in Grass Valley. Not only do they have two old mines and museum in Grass Valley (Empire and North Star), but during the fair, they had an amazing gold mining demonstration from the 16 to 1 gold mine, which is one of the only operational gold mines in CA left (well- as of 4 years ago). They have these BIG guys demonstrate drilling into the rocks (they brought giant rocks), and they also had a demo of smealting gold into a bar- real gold!! This was really great, and probably a very rare site. Also, the 16 to 1 mine (I think that is there best ratio of gold to rock) ofters tours where you can actually go into the mine- for about $100 a head. I don't know about the three year old, but again, this would be a really rare experience. The fair is probably in August- call Grass Valley camber of commerce (I'm guessing). For May, there is Sutter's Fort in Sacramento. http://cal-parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=485. Have Fun! -Lisa

Definitely Columbia! If you go there, don't miss the stage coach ride. http://www.sierra.parks.state.ca.us/cshp.htm Columbia is both a State Park and a living town. This unique blend of government and private enterprise creates an interesting and educational experience for both visitors and residents. Come with us on a tour of this living museum. Where the Park System re-creates a gold rush town of the 1850-1870 time period and local merchants provide for your modern needs. -- Helena