Heading North: Where to Pan For Gold in Canada

Every year, Canada draws visitors North for once in a lifetime outdoor adventures and nothing meets this criteria like a gold panning experience. From Ontario all the way to British Columbia, locals and tourists make their way to local mines and well-known gold fields to test their luck but nowhere has the same character and history as the Yukon. If you have gold fever, it is always a good idea to make your way North to the Yukon territory — after all, there’s gold in them hills!

Yukon territories have a long history including the infamous Klondike Gold Rush that has drawn prospective prospectors for more than one hundred years. The Yukon River is nearly 3187 kms long and acts as an excellent place for panners. In fact, Dawson City holds open, or free claim areas for visitors who are hoping to find gold. For the traditional gold panning experience, amateur prospectors can grab their metal or plastic pans if you are sick of hauling heavy materials and get to work.

Seeking Heavy Metals: Why Pan for Gold in the Yukon

There are plenty of gold mines in operation across Canada but these are not open to the public. While mine and land claims are privately owned throughout B.C, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, the Yukon has built an industry around visitors looking to find gold in the free claim territories around Dawson City and beyond.

More than just setting amateur prospectors loose along the banks of a river, Yukon tourism officials provide helpful guides and insights into traditional tools like steel pans, as well as the proper way to submerge the pan and separate any black sand and gold that you might find.

Gold is heavy so it won’t be floating along water surfaces, so remember to check the bottom of the pan before getting discouraged. Something as simple as identifying low traffic areas between big rocks can mean the difference between a missed opportunity and a days worth of gold.

In addition to scouring river banks, anyone who is interested in gold bearing areas and placer gold mines can visit one of many museums and even book trips to operational gold fields and mining operations. You likely won’t be finding gold nuggets in free claim spaces but local industry experts can demonstrate where these rare specimens come from.

Gold is not the only thing that you can find. Prospectors have been searching for gold for over a century but it is not uncommon for them to pull up a fossil or unexpected object. What might look like just another large rock can be a unique discovery all on its own, so it is important to be thorough and check your pan regularly. While you likely won’t find your fortune on a day trip, panning for gold in the Yukon is a once in a lifetime experience.