Since the first time a weary traveler spotted a gleaming speck of gold dust in the Merced riverbed, people have been hooked on the idea of finding gold on their travels to Mariposa County. Gold Fever sets in the moment you find your first piece and is guaranteed to awaken a new affinity for gold panning that simply cannot be explained. Even today, billions of dollars are spent trading, collecting and searching for gold, whether it’s in the form of a coin or the raw stuff that can be found beneath the cold waters of rivers and streams when you pan for gold in Yosemite and across the Western United States.
Although some say the days of easy pickings are long gone, there’s still plenty to be found by gold panning in the historic Mother Lode. The hope to “strike it rich” is something people have shown an interest in for many years, which has led to a consistent popularity in panning for gold.
While you can’t pan for gold in Yosemite National Park, you can still strike it rich at quite a few places within Mariposa County.
Below, you will find a guide to gold panning locations around Yosemite and Mariposa County. This guide covers open, natural locations along the Merced River, as well as formal attractions such as the California State Mining and Mineral Museum. Some places will show you how to pan for gold (for free) and some offer extensive lessons at a cost. Check with individual gold panning locations for details. Also, make sure to check if your lesson will provide gold-panning equipment, as some locations may not. Happy panning!