With the price of gold peaking over $900 and even $1000 dollars per ounce in recent weeks, there have been quite a lot of reports in the news about gold prospecting in general. Just today, there appeared an article in the New York Times which focused on prospecting in the motherlode region of California. No big surprise there, everybody knows about the 49’ers and the California gold rush and of course anytime something mildly out of the ordinary happens the news picks it up and makes a story about something they don’t care about or understand.
The funny thing about it is, this time, they are focusing their attention on Arizona gold. I’ve actually seen more news stories in the past 3 months from major agencies on Arizona gold prospecting than for any other locality, including California and Alaska. Although Arizona hasn’t traditionally been in the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to gold rushes, anyone who lives there knows that Arizona has a rich heritage of gold mining. The state was practically founded on gold discoveries at places like Lynx Creek, Rich Hill, the San Domingo placers and Quartzsite / Yuma. Aside from major lode gold and placer discoveries, Arizona is covered with thousands of minor uneconomic placers and lodes. Arizona gold locations are not hard to find because there are a lot of them!
So why hasn’t it come out until now? I suppose it has to do with development. The Arizona of today is a far cry from what it was when gold was first discovered here by native people, worked by the Spaniards, rediscovered by the mountain men and reworked and rediscovered by hard working depression era Americans. In the 1930’s, men who flocked to the Arizona desert to persue placer mining stood a good chance of starving to death or dying of thirst 15 miles outside of Phoenix. Today, there are paved roads everywhere and 4 wheel drive vehicles with air conditioning. A skilled prospector who is adept at researching placer locations can travel 50 miles, find a previously undiscovered placer gold area during the day and enjoy Mexican food and margaritas by 7 p.m. at night. It probably doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen.
Gold prospecting in Arizona is not without it’s pitfalls however. One can still die of thirst, get bit by a rattlesnake, get stuck unprepared by weather or faulty vehicles and now, more commonly than ever, come face to face with an angry mineral rights owner who’s claim you have strayed upon because you don’t know how to research. Even experienced nugget shooters have run in to this reality, if only by honest mistake. Nowadays, many thousands of acres that were open to exploration just last year are being claimed up, particularly those areas which are famous and close to paved highways. Even areas in the deep back country are no longer immune. The days of freestyle nugget hunting on open ground are most certainly over and a nugget hunter can literally wake up one morning and find that all the areas he ever cared about are now claimed. No choice but to start over with what’s left. It’s not really a good time to be in that position because it’s hard enough to research and find unclaimed, open to prospect placer ground to begin with without all the competition. To make the matter more complicated, there is an increasing concern among and an even heavier amount of news items coming from those crying for a change in the 1872 Mining Law.
If you come to Arizona to prospect, enjoy yourself while you can, be extra careful, learn to research claims and join a club while you learn, just to be safe. If you’re already a veteran, you see what’s going on. Enjoy the ride and let’s see where the future of nugget hunting in AZ goes from here. Claim now because if you don’t, someone else surely will.
Here is a new report from CNN on Arizona Gold Prospecting :
For further discussion feel free to Join our Gold Prospecting Forum