A must visit for any casual prospector spending time in the Colorado mountains, Cache Creek was a commercial operation that was shut down in the midst of productive operations. Of all the places open to casual prospecting in Colorado, this is the one to hit if you dream of finding a nugget. No promises of course, it may remain just a dream for you, but it can happen here. The site was privately owned for about 100 years and was repurchased by the Feds (BLM) in 1992 specifically to provide a place for gold prospectors to dig. Since it is repurchased land, it is unclaimable…all open for you to play 🙂
TheBLM has discussed formal plans to start charging a small fee to use the site. I suppose this will pay for the port-a-potty setup and such. However, no changes are being made to the rules for the 2017 prospecting season! I confirmed this personally with the BLM staff at the Royal Gorge Field Office in Canon City June 5th, 2017. This means no fees, no new restrictions on where we can dig…same rules as last year. Here’s a pic of the rules posted on site:
- No power equipment or water diversion
- leave your dig site in a safe condition for other users and animals
- no digging near trees
- Dispersed (no drinking water or hookups available) camping is allowed in this area for up to 14 days.
To get there follow US-24 to Granite (between Leadville and Buena Vista) and turn west off the highway at Lost Canyon Road. Follow the road up onto the plateau and travel west to the intersection with a road that runs under the electrical wires. Follow that unmarked road southerly (turn left) to an ungraded dirt parking lot. In the lot you will see porta-toilets and the sign with rules and such (I thought about including a pic of the toilets here but I think you know what they look like!).
Turn off highway 24 at this sign for Lost Canyon Road. It’s just south of several buildings which are wedged in on the west side of the highway between the hillside and the highway.
The black line I’ve drawn on the satellite image below shows your route from the Lost Canyon sign to the parking lot.
The prospecting area is quite large here as you can see on the BLM website ( actually, the BLM took down their website info so look at the map above in the picture with the rules). Onsite, You’ll see piles of material in various states of having been mined. There is gold all over here, in the dirt under your feet as you walk around the artificial valley, in the odd artificial hills left behind by the hydraulic mining and even in the steep hillsides of the valley edge where they stopped hydraulic operations after the court order back a century ago.
Water flows can vary here by quite a bit so it helps to have larger and smaller sluices along with you. Generally the streams flowing through the site are high in the spring during snowmelt and drop as the summer unfolds. Here we see sluices being run in early November with a whole stream of the creek running thru these small sluices!
The gold here is mostly quite fine as is typical of Colorado so be sure you are prepared to catch the fine stuff!
While you are in the area, you may also want to try digging in the Arkansas River. Here’s info on a public location nearby: http://findinggoldincolorado.com/point-barr-prospecting-site/
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