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The Rocky Mountains are filled with treasures like gold, silver and gemstones—you just need to know how to look for them! With The Argo Mill & Tunnel’s gold panning lessons, you’ll become an expert in the streams of our state.
The best part is, everything you find during your lesson is yours to keep!
Gold Panning History
Gold panning has been a lucrative activity for centuries now. Also known as “placer mining,” this method of gold extraction dates back to ancient Roman times, in which various precious metals could be found in streams and mountainsides. The methods extended to South America during the Spanish conquest of the 1600s and slowly made their way to North America.
As larger extraction methods proved more dependable, panning died out. That isn’t to say there’s no more gold to be found in our rivers though…
Learn From the Best: The Argo’s Gold Panning Lessons
Gold panning lessons are included in each tour ticket price. We love to give our visitors a chance to try their luck with our ore containers, which hold real placer gold amongst the sand and waste rock. But that’s not all: we also offer gemstone panning! Colorado is home to gorgeous gems like Peridot, Topaz, Garnet, Quartz, Amethyst, Citrine, Agates or the state gemstone, Aquamarine.
There are a few tricks to panning that aid in the success of your treasure hunt. Firstly, the most important element is the type of pan you use; the pans we offer during your lessons have been crafted through hundreds of years of trial and error. The ridges are very important in your pan, as they capture the heavy gold at the bottom while filtering out the sand and waste rock.
How you go about using this pan is a two-step process. First, you want to get your sample of sand and waste rock in the pan with a small layer of water on top. Then you’ll swirl the pan and its contents in a circular manner to evenly distribute the material before slightly tipping the pan toward the back. This will ensure the materials end up in the ridges.
Now, you’ll want to shake the pan side to side! This agitation allows the heaviest particles (the gold) to sink deeper into the ridges.
In order to reveal the gold, we move to the next part of the process. This requires you to dip the lip of the pan in the water and keep it there while gently pushing the pan back and forth to create waves. The waves will slowly take the top layers of sand away, leaving you with gold at the bottom!
If you don’t see gold, you’re likely looking at “paydirt,” a hematite and magnetite mixture. But don’t worry, just go back through the steps and keep searching!
When you do “strike” gold, leave the pan safely floating in the water and prepare your bag with a bit of water. Simply place your finger on top of the gold, hold it there for three seconds, and pull away—the gold should stick to your finger so you can place it in the bag for safekeeping.
Guaranteed Gold at The Argo
When panning for gold at The Argo, whether you took the gold panning lessons at the end of the tour or came out just to test your luck, you are almost guaranteed to find your treasure in our troughs! We urge everyone to try their hand because you never know what you may find.
Panning for gold is a fun activity for everyone, young and old! Book a tour with our team for your next family outing to mix history with fun!