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I'd like to find some destinations in the Pacific Northwest (US) for panning or gathering precious metals or gems, preferably without requiring non-trivial effort to gain access to. This is meant as a recreational thing with a small group of people.

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for self-panning or as part of a tour/company/tourist spot? –  Mark Mayo Jun 7 '13 at 1:59
    
With others, probably not an extended trip. –  Hamster Jun 7 '13 at 2:08
    
but do you just want to say, go down to a river with friends, or are you looking for a company with tools etc to take you out to a place? –  Mark Mayo Jun 7 '13 at 2:21
    
By company do you mean a literal company or just being in the company of hobbyists or something? –  Hamster Jun 7 '13 at 5:11
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We're not objectively seeking a profit or anything like that. It would be neat to go to something like an actual (decommissioned?) mining location, though. –  Hamster Jun 7 '13 at 5:19
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I am not from around your area, but prospecting has always been an interest of mine.

This Geology.com article looks at the general information relating to prospecting in the US, a link from that article here provides more detail.

This article from Nature of the NorthWest has many links pertaining to the rules, regulations and locations of the gold-panning areas in the Pacific Northwest.

I hope this helps.

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Go up to BC in Canada, lots of areas out back where you can pan for Gold and get it, or go to Alaska.

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Welcome to Travel SE. Can you add more details to your answer –  Dirty-flow Jun 20 '13 at 5:50
    
He did ask about the US specifically, not Canada. –  Mark Mayo Jun 20 '13 at 5:52
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