Panning for Gold & Gems in the Georgia Mountains
Did you know that the northern part of Georgia was home to one of the earliest and largest gold rushes in the USA?
History of North Georgia’s Gold Rush
Although Native Americans had known of nearby gold for generations, the natural resource went largely unnoticed until news of a discovery near Dahlonega in 1828. Gold fever spread quickly through the area, and Georgia’s gold rush began in 1829 as prospectors arrived to stake their claims. By the spring of 1830, there were 4,000 people working along the Yahoola Creek alone.
During the Gold Lottery of 1832, Georgia distributed gold-producing land previously owned by Cherokees to eligible residents of the state. Tensions increased between the two groups, and though the Cherokees ultimately won a court case upholding their sovereignty, it did not stop the forced Cherokee Removal of 1838 on the Trail of Tears.
The booming gold rush towns suffered from a limited circulation of currency, and in 1835 Congress authorized the federal Branch Mint at Dahlonega. The Dahlonega Mint opened in 1838 and produced almost 1.5 million gold coins until closing 31 years later.
The mining industry started to suffer when deposit yields dropped in the early 1840s. The 1848 discovery of gold in California then drove many miners to seek their fortunes out west. Georgia’s gold industry took a further blow during the Civil War and the Dahlonega Mint closed in 1861.
Although the heyday of Georgia’s Gold Rush has long passed, commercial mining continued into the 20th century and panning for gold is still popular today.
Historic Gold Sites in the Georgia Mountains
There are many gold-related historic sites throughout the North Georgia mountains. Stop at historical markers throughout the area to learn more about places including Gold Diggers Road, Findley Ridge, and more.
The 1875 Chestatee River diving bell is a unique example of innovative gold mining methods from almost 150 years ago. Visit this free outdoor exhibit to see this diving bell that laid hidden at the bottom of the Chestatee River for over a century.
- Address: 8 Warwick Street, Dahlonega, GA
- Website: lumpkinhistory.org/diving-bell
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.0 (75+ reviews)
A great introduction to the history of gold in Dahlonega and North Georgia is at the Dahlonega Gold Museum. The museum is located in the middle of Dahlonega’s town square in the former Lumpkin County Courthouse. The courthouse was built in 1836 and is one of the oldest courthouse buildings in Georgia.
- Phone: +1 (706) 864-2257
- Address: 1 Public Square, Dahlonega, GA
- Website: gastateparks.org/DahlonegaGoldMuseum
- Facebook: @DGoldMuseumPark rated 5.0 (3 reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (385+ reviews)
Finding Gold in North Georgia
There are many places and ways to find gold in the North Georgia mountains. Find the option that best suits the preferences of your group and head out to strike gold!
Options for finding gold in North Georgia include visiting a gold panning tourist attraction, using a shovel and pan to search for gold in approved streams in the National Forests, searching on private land (with permission), or joining a club that has access to leased gold mining sites.
Gold Prospecting Locations
Some local prospectors will tell you that there is gold in about every creek and river in North Georgia. Indeed, Georgia’s gold can be found along gold belt deposits in many areas of North Georgia including:
- Rivers: Chattahoochee River, Chestatee River, Etowah River, Little River, Nacoochee River, Tallapoosa River
- Creeks: Baggs Creek, Calhoun Creek, Canton Creek, Cavender Creek, Coosa Creek, Dukes Creek, James Creek, McClusky Creek, Sixes Creek, Tesnatee Creek, Yahoola Creek
- Plus many other unnamed creeks and tributaries of the rivers
- Mines: most area mines are no longer commercially mining for gold, but some do offer tours or special dig events
Recreational panning for gold is allowed in stream beds in the National Forests as long as significant stream disturbance does not occur and when only a small hand shovel or trowel and a pan are used. Call the Blue Ridge District Ranger at +1 (706) 745-6928 or the Chattooga River District Ranger at +1 (706) 754-6221 to determine whether the mineral rights of a stream are publicly or privately owned or if any restrictions have been placed on the stream.
More serious gold hunters should consider joining one of the gold prospecting associations. Membership in these clubs usually includes access to private leased lands where members can search for gold. Visit the websites of Weekend Gold Miners, Gold Prospectors Association of America, or Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association to learn about unique benefits of membership in these clubs.
Always be sure to follow local laws and respect personal property rights (do not search for gold on private property without explicit permission to do so).
North Georgia Cabin Rentals Where You Can Pan for Gold
These North Georgia mountain rental properties allow budding prospectors to pan for gold right at home!
Dog-Friendly Renovated Cabin on Chestatee River
This North Georgia vacation rental is located directly on the Chestatee River and is large enough to sleep 12 people. Includes several gold pans that you can use to pan for gold directly on the property (at least 2 guests have already found gold at the property!).
Location near Dahlonega and within 5 miles of local attractions including vineyard and zoo.
- Cottage sleeps 12 people in 5 bedrooms / 3.5 bathrooms
- Average / approximate cost: $242/ night
- Additional fee of $25 / person for parties > 8
- Minimum stay: 1-3 nights
- Click here to check current availability and rates
Private Waterfront Log Cabin on Chestatee River
This cabin is located on a bend of the Chestatee River on 9 acres of woods. Close by the river/waters edge, when the river is not in flood stage you may set down a chair on the sandbar to fish, swim, or pan for gold. A cantilevered deck with a stone fireplace stretches over the river.
Located 7 miles from Dahlonega, multiple vineyards, and attractions. No smoking, no parties, and no pets are allowed in this North Georgia rental.
- Cabin sleeps 8 people in 4 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms
- Average / approximate cost: $247 / night
- Minimum stay: 2-7 nights
- Click here to check current availability and rates
Restored Vintage Farmhouse Cottage on Horse Farm with Creek
The Flying Duck Farmhouse is a restored vintage farmhouse located on 160 private acres at the foot of Three Sisters Mountains. Enjoy a short walk to the large deck overlooking a stream — a perfect spot to pan for gold or have evening cocktails in the hammock or rocking chairs.
Location is less than 4 miles from downtown Dahlonega, multiple vineyards, and local attractions (Consolidated Gold Mine is 3.3 miles away). No smoking, no parties, and no pets are allowed in this North Georgia rental.
- Cottage sleeps 5 people in 2 bedrooms / 1 bathroom
- Average / approximate cost: $148 / night
- Minimum stay: 2 nights
- Minimum age of primary renter: 21
Gold Panning Equipment
Carry highly rated gold panning equipment to best set yourself up for success:
Note that when panning within the US Forest Service that you may not collect for commercial purposes and in-stream sluices and suction dredges are not allowed. Visit the US Forest Service website to learn more about gold panning, rockhounding, and fossil collecting in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.
Map of Gold Attractions in North Georgia Mountains
Use the interactive map below to find unique gold attractions in the Georgia mountains.
North Georgia Gold Panning and Gem Mining Attractions
Enjoy a fun family activity and potentially strike it rich! Choose to visit a local stream and test your luck, or go with a more sure bet at one of the gold panning / gem mining attractions in North Georgia.
North Georgia Gold Panning & Gold Mine Exhibits
These attractions include gold and mining exhibits in addition to gold and gem panning.
Enjoy mine tours, gold panning, gemstone mining, and gem cutting at the largest hard rock gold mine east of the Mississippi. Founded in 1896, this mine goes 200 feet underground where your tour guide will demonstrate how miners blasted quartz veins to uncover huge deposits of gold. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Phone: +1 (706) 864-8473
- Address: 185 Consolidated Gold Mine Road, Dahlonega, GA
- Website: consolidatedgoldmine.com
- Facebook: @consolidatedgoldminedahlonega rated 5.0 (350+ reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (1,075+ reviews)
- Rated the #1 thing to do in Dahlonega
Crisson Gold Mine was established in 1847 and is an open-pit gold mine that was worked commercially until the 1980s. View their antique equipment including a 130-year-old stamp mill (rock crusher) that is still used to crush quartz rock containing gold. For those looking to take their gold panning hobby to the next level, Crisson Gold Mine is the largest dealer of mining equipment in the southeast.
Enjoy gold panning, gem grubbing, wagon rides, and bring lunch to enjoy on their picnic tables. Plus, if you think you may have found gold on your property, bring your own quartz and use the rock crusher to see if you have gold on your own property ($20 for 1/2 bucket, $40.00 for full bucket).
- Phone: +1 (706) 864-6363
- Address: 2736 Morrison Moore Pkwy E, Dahlonega, GA
- Website: crissongoldmine.com
- Facebook: @crissongoldmine rated 4.9 (75+ reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (400+ reviews)
- Rated the #2 thing to do in Dahlonega
North Georgia Gold Panning and Gem Grubbing Attractions
These gold panning attractions allow visitors to purchase a pre-filled bucket of gems and gold. Take your bucket to their panning / sifting areas to search for treasures in your bucket.
Aska Mining Company is located on the Toccoa River in Blue Ridge and offers gold panning, gem mining, river floats (Toccoa River tubing), gift shop, and a café. Veteran-owned business offers a 10% discount for active and retired veterans, law enforcement officers, and first responders.
- Phone: +1 (706) 258-4854
- Address: 8436 Aska Road, Blue Ridge, GA
- Website: askaminingcompany.com
- Facebook: @askaminingco rated 5.0 (30+ reviews)
- Instagram: @askamining
- TripAdvisor: rated 5.0 (35+ reviews)
Pan for gold and gems at this mine and shop for local treats in the gift shop. Gold comes from nearby Dukes Creek – the site of the first major Gold Rush in the USA.
- Phone: +1 (706) 878-2625
- Address: 6145 GA-75, Sautee Nacoochee, GA
- Website: dukescreek.com
- Facebook: @DukesCreekGoldAndGemMines rated 5.0 (10+ reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (125+ reviews)
- Rated #1 of Sights and Landmarks in Helen
NOTE: the Mining and Camping location is closed until further notice, but gold buckets and gem bags may still be purchased in their online store.
Gold ‘n Gem Grubbin’ was North Georgia’s last commercially operating Gold Mine. Formerly a productive part of the Loud Mine which supplied $2M of the $7M of minted gold bullion coins at the nearby Dahlonega Mint.
- Phone: +1 (706) 865-5454
- Address: 75 Gold Nugget Lane, Cleveland, GA (currently closed)
- Website: goldngemgrubbin.com
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.0 (150+ reviews)
Search for treasure in your choice of buckets of gold, gemstones, and fossils. Southwestern outpost and gift shop on site.
- Phone: +1 (706) 878-5065
- Address: 7901 South Main Street, Helen, GA
- Website: outpostgoldandgems.com
- Facebook: @outppostgoldandgem rated 5.0 (40+ reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (90+ reviews)
Enjoy gold panning, gemstone mining, and fossil digs. Gift shop and ice cream on site (mini golf is coming soon).
- Phone: +1 (706) 253-GEMS (4367)
- Address: 5119 Hwy 136 W, Talking Rock, GA
- Website: talkingrockgeneral.com
- Facebook: @talkingrockgeneral rated 4.8 (15+ reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (5+ reviews)
North Georgia Gem Grubbing Attractions
The following gem grubbing attractions do not offer the option to pan for gold, but you can still have fun gem grubbing along with other activities like feeding goats, fishing, and playing mini golf!
Cohutta Cove Mini Golf offers gem mining and miniature golf, along with ice cream, coffees, and drinks.
- Phone: +1 (706) 946-1920
- Address: 64 Dunbarton Farm Road, Blue Ridge, GA
- Website: cohuttacoveminigolf.com
- Facebook: @CohuttaCoveMiniGolf rated 4.7 (15+ reviews)
- Groupon: @cohutta-cove-mini-golf rated 4.2 (25+ Groupon reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (55+ reviews)
Tourist attraction featuring goats that walk up ramps, around play areas, and (of course) on the roof of the buildings! This souvenir shop has loads of cheeky goat-themed products as well as local mementos and snacks for sale. Let kids feed the goats, enjoy the small playground area, and try their luck at the gem mining.
- Phone: +1 (706) 782-2784
- Address: 3026 U.S. 441 South, Tiger, GA
- Website: goats-on-the-roof.com
- Facebook: @GoatsontheRoofGA rated 4.9 (180+ reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (240+ reviews)
- Rated #1 thing to do in Tiger
The Lilly Pad Village offers gem mining, mini-golf, and fishing. They take pride in being the “most generous, comfortable, and educational gem mining experience in Blue Ridge.” Free decks and picnic tables are available for guests.
- Phone: +1 (706) 534-1317
- Address: 24 Adelaide Drive, Blue Ridge, GA
- Website: lillypadvillage.com
- Facebook: @lillypadvillage rated 5.0 (45+ reviews)
- TripAdvisor: rated 4.5 (270+ reviews)
Further Reading About Panning For Gold in Georgia
Learn even more about how to pan for gold and find gold in Georgia with these highly-rated books.
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