Pick up your pans and start hunting for gold! Here's a list of supplies to help you kick off your new hobby, all for less than $100!
When American settlers moved West, a significant number of them took one look at the Rocky Mountains and decided, "this is far enough." And with that, Denver was born, as was Colorado's gold rush in the mid-1800s.
Back then, miners reported stories of picking ounce nuggets right out of the streams. While that isn't really possible anymore, you can still pull fine gold and even small flakes of gold out of Colorado's rivers and streams.
You won't get rich mining for gold in Denver nowadays. But, if you want to try your hand at gold panning, here's how you can get into the hobby for less than $100.
If you are only looking to pull a couple flakes of gold out of the ground and prove that you can do it, then the only thing you really need is a simple gold pan, and it won't cost you more than $7. But where's the fun in only pulling a couple of cents of gold out of the ground?
Nothing fancy about this. If you want to dig for gold, you're going to need a way to dig into the earth. Really, any shovel will do. I prefer my military-style trench shovel; it is super light, folds up really easily, and only set me back $11.99.
Ideally, you would want to have at least two buckets -- one to hold unprocessed pay dirt, the other to hold the concentrate -- but if you can only get one, you'll be fine. You can buy buckets online, but the shipping kills the price. So we suggest grabbing a basic five-gallon bucket at Walmart for only $3. Home Depot and Lowes carry them, but you'll pay a dollar more since they come with the stores' logos on them.
The pieces of gold you're looking for are likely going to be the size of a grain of sand, maybe a little bigger, and it doesn't make things easier when all of the rocks and large pieces of gravel get in the way. Now, you could pick the rocks out by hand, but that's going to take a lot longer than you think. Which is where the classifier comes in. Basically, it's a pasta strainer designed to handle the brunt of classifying rocky soil.
You can gold mine with all of the above tools.
BUT, if you want to get yourself a fair amount of gold, there's one more thing you're going to need ...
This is a rectangular box that uses running water to separate the gold from the dirt. You can get by with a 24" sluice box for just $70, but an upgrade to the 30" sluice box only costs a couple bucks more -- and means more chances to catch gold.
At the moment, gold is worth approximately $1,300 an ounce. That means that it would take three grams of gold to break even. It's not uncommon for recreational prospectors to find half a gram in an afternoon, so it's actually possible to turn a profit in casual gold prospecting in a half dozen outings.
What do you think? Have you gone mining for gold in Colorado? Any tips or tricks? Share them with us in the comments below.