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BLM>Colorado>Programs>Recreation>Recreation Activities>Rock Collecting and Gold Panning
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Recreation Activities

Rock Collecting and Gold Panning

Vial containing gold flakes

Rockhounds will find plenty of opportunities for rock collecting and gold panning in Colorado. Precious gems, semi-precious gems and various metals can be found throughout the state. In particular, many streams on the Front Range wash gold dust and occasional gold nuggets down from rugged glacier-carved slopes.

Rock collecting and gold panning are generally permitted on public lands, except for certain designated areas, such as wilderness areas, Wilderness Study Areas, developed special management areas or recreation sites. Precious and semi-precious gems can be collected in reasonable quantities without a permit, as long as the activity is for personal use and not commercial purposes.

While gold panning and non-mechanized sluicing are unregulated on most public lands, dredging and mechanized sluicing are regulated and may require a permit. To ensure the enjoyment of all visitors on public lands, please follow all necessary laws, regulations and guidelines:

  • Collection and removal is generally limited to battery-operated equipment, equipment that uses recycling processes and dry washers.
  • Collection and removal may not be assisted by motorized or mechanized equipment.
  • Blasting material of any kind is not permitted.
  • Do not contaminate wells, creeks or other water supplies.
  • Limit excavation depth to four feet and fill all holes that may be dangerous to livestock or wildlife.
  • Do not disturb, damage or destroy the environment; wildlife; cultural, historical or paleontological resources; or government or private property.

Various other regulations also apply. For additional information, contact the local BLM Field Office for the area you are planning to visit.

Rockhounding brochure

Uncompahgre Field Office: Energy and Mineral Resources