The Lynx Creek drainage near Prescott, Az is the motherload of Arizona gold country. 108,000 ounces of documented placer has come out of this creek since gold was first discovered here in 1863. The creek itself is a great place to get started with gold prospecting. Several miles of creek have been set aside by the Forest Service as a withdraw area that is closed to mineral claims and open to recreational prospecting. Hand tools and pans are allowed. Mechanical equipment such as dredges, highbankers, spiral panners and sluice boxes are banned. Metal detectors are acceptable, although the creek itself and surrounding tributaries are filled with more metal trash from the old timers than most nuggetshooters would care to deal with. Still, a very persistant detectorist can snag a nugget from exposed bedrock and some really nice nuggets have come from Lynx, documented up to 4 ounces. New rules recently implemented by the Forest Service prohibit the use of metal detectors "above the high water mark". If you are working tributaries for nuggets, it's now probably best to stay out of and above the official withdraw area.
Panning for gold on Lynx Creek near Bannie Mine Rd.
In addition to the Lynx Creek withdraw area within the Prescott National Forest, the city of Prescott Valley has set aside a section of Lynx creek above Fain Park, right in town, for recreational prospecting. Again, hand tools and pans are all that is allowed in this area. Once you leave the withdraw area, the rules for mechanized equipment no longer apply, although other rules may apply. The drainage lies within the Prescott National Forest and so mining activity falls within their jurisdiction.
Other than the withdrawn area and Fain park, Lynx creek itself (not the entire drainage system) is private. Below the dam at Fain is private. Above Fain park to the Prescott National Forest is private. There is a section above Lynx lake that is private and the lake itself is off limits. Towards the headwaters of the creek, above CCC camp, is the town of Walker. All of Walker is private.
Just like any area, for nugget hunters, exploration is key. The Lynx creek drainage is a huge area with innumerable tributaries, hillsides, prospects, mines, etc.
Stay off private property, fill your dig holes, only use hand tools and the Lynx Creek area should be open to recreational gold prospecting and gold panning for years to come. Keep in mind that you are responsible for your actions and whereabouts, not me.
Old foundations at CCC Camp
Questions? Go here: Forest Service
There are 4 choices if you are camping in the area. Lynx camp and Hilltop camp are pay to play, improved camsites with hookups, bathrooms and so on located on the west side of Lynx Lake. Contact the Forest Service for availablilty. For dispersed camping on minimally improved sites, there 11 dispersed camp sites on Enchanted Forest Road. The campsites are situated between Walker Road and the cattle guard about 1/4 of a mile from the creek. 13 dispersed campsites are also available on Bannie Mine Rd. both near the creek and situated on both sides of the creek. Other than dispersed camp sites and the Lynx Lake sites, there is no camping in the Lynx Creek drainage area. Dispersed camping is on a first come, first serve basis.
Upper Lynx Creek
Here are some GPS coordinates to open areas that will get you started. Have fun and be safe.
Fain Park in Prescott Valley 34' 34.444' N 112' 21.238' W
The Panning Area 34' 31.775' N 112' 23.068' W
Bannie Mine Road 34' 29.356' N 112' 21.996' W
Dredge tailings near Bannie Mine Road Great Map of the Withdraw Area:
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