Hints for prospecting at “Big Bend” 15   Recently updated !

This is a spot you have to see to believe! Big Bend has good gold and lots of it! It’s officially called Steele Street Open Space Park and is part of the Adams County Open Space parks. You arrive at a parking lot on Steele Street just north of 78th Ave. it doesn’t look like much from here, you’ll just have to trust me and walk to the rec path that parallels the river. At this point you’ll see a large cobble bar across the river:

Wow right?… Well, sort of. Other than in low water winter conditions, it’s rough getting over there (legally) as you have to ford the river with your gear. BUT don’t worry, I have another option for you that’s just as good…maybe better 🙂

Turn left onto the rec path to enjoy a view of the old railroad bridge (or maybe the new light rail bridge by the time you get there):

Walk under the bridge and you’ll find this giant, gold bearing cobble bar on “our” side of the river:

 Continue along the paved path and you’ll find a well used dirt path down to the bar. Enjoy!

This place is even bigger than my photos can show you. It’s a great spot to bring a group or kids! As always, please pack out any trash you see in your work area and knock down any water diversions or cobble piles so other park users don’t find reason to complain about us prospectors.

The gold here: As usual in Colorado it’s pretty small, mostly -30 mesh with plenty of -50. The downstream end of the bar has lots of -100 mesh which many people will have a hard time seeing in the pan! I have seen one picture of a small nugget found here so if you are classifying your material, keep an eye out for the next nugget 😉

Digging tips: usually the top 6 inches have the best gold. You can usually set up a sluice in your choice of spots near the upstream end of the dry cobble. Often I find there’s no need to haul buckets around as the gold right next to my sluice is quite good. On the other hand, this bar is over 1/4 mile long and there are some definite hot spots to reward those who do a lot of sampling. You’ll have a hard time setting up a sluice further downstream so an electric highbanker (sorry, no gasoline motors allowed) or a Gold Cube would be the right tool for the job. It was this spot that convinced me to build a highbanker from my Bazooka Goldtrap Sniper but that’s a story for another day!

After digging: If you drive back along 78th a couple blocks west (past the horse stables and the Catholic school) to York St, you’ll find a little convenience store with snacks and drinks…that’s about all that’s close by here.

One last pic, this is a panoramic of the whole bar…omg where to start?!image

Here’s the exact location for your GPS:

For weblinks, see this post: http://findinggoldincolorado.com/where-to-start-if-you-want-to-dig-in-colorado/

This site costs money to keep up. The only way it pays for itself is shopping referrals. If you appreciate the info here, please click thru one of my Amazon ads the next time you want to shop online. It won’t cost you anything extra and it keeps the site going:

If you want more prospecting adventures in this area, you can also hit the parks just north at 80th, 88th and 120th Avenues. What fun!!

About KevinInColorado

I'm an avid, casual gold prospector. Resident of Summit County, Colorado. Aspiring author, working on a book also called Finding Gold in Colorado (tm). - You can also join the Facebook group 'Finding Gold in Colorado' to get Colorado gold prospecting and mining news. - PLEASE HELP ME MAKE THE SITE BETTER: If you find a typo or dead web link, please, please drop me a line about it or just post a comment. I WILL FIX IT!!

15 thoughts on “Hints for prospecting at “Big Bend”

  • Rob

    That looks good . That spot is right on the South Platte ? We go to clear creek up that way. Good looking gravel bar. Parking ? Should a fella bring some wheels here to get gear to the spot ? Thanks for these posts

    • kevininco Post author

      Yes this spot is on the south Platte River…sorry if I wasn’t clear about that!

      As far as wheels go, you certainly can but its not that far a walk to the upstream end of the bar so I usually don’t. Of course I do when I’m using my electric highbanker since the metal stand and battery are heavy!

      I hope you enjoy and get great gold!

    • Dave

      I would bring wheels if you have them. I am getting old and by the end of the day, wheels are very nice to get all your gear and cons out.


  • GrizzlyGremlin

    True info! Big bend is a great place, and Kevin isn’t kidding about the size. The place is big, ans the gold varies quite dramatically in different places. The great thing about Steele st. is that no matter how much you dig your hole looks like mellon ball scoop from the bike path!

  • Rob

    We have been there twice since this was posted. Did pretty well near the point in the middle of the bar. Tried the upper end this morning and not so good. Previous comment on ” gold varies ” is true. Have you had any luck digging in the middle of the bar ?u

    • KevininCO Post author

      Hey Rob, I’ve found very good gold in the middle of the bar. Good enough to haul buckets to my sluice (which I hate to do!) in fact 🙂

  • Dave

    Rob, I would bring wheels if you have them. I am getting old and by the end of the day, wheels are very nice in helping get your gear and cons back to the parking lot. GoldpannerDave

    • KevininCO Post author

      Thanks for the added perspective. I brought wheels last time I was there due to bringing my little highbanker and that end of the day walk was a lot easier! With a nice paved path running direct from the car to the bar it’s a shame not to use wheels if you’ve got them I suppose 🙂

  • Rich Sutterfield

    I’ve had a lot of fun here this summer Kevin since I read this post a few months ago. Thanks for passing it along. Gold is fairly well distributed anywhere and everywhere, sometimes more, sometimes less but always enough to make it interesting. I just dig at the water’s edge, wherever that is that day, anywhere along the bar. I’ve found it all the way to the high water mark, the whole bar has gold. I would say if you’ve tried the S. Platte in other places upstream and been disappointed, give this place a shot.

    But the water level goes up and down constantly so even if you find a spot to set up a sluice, it will likely end up out of the water, or under it, while you’re off digging your next bucket. You end up spending your day re-setting your sluice and possibly losing gold.

    I’ve settled on using my spiral gold wheel, it’s almost as fast as a sluice, can be easily adjusted with the water level, and I can constantly monitor my gold take because it does vary from one shovelful to the next. Like you say though, thunderstorms can really jack up the water level. I’ve seen the whole bar go under water in 15 minutes when a storm pounded the downtown area. It floods all the time and reshuffles the deck, fills in all holes and puts gold back in them too!

    One day I was there and some crazy gal was being chased by the cops, she did a Smokey and the Bandit right off the curve at 78th into the river. That was interesting.

    Thanks again for sharing this, my wife has some health problems and I need to stay local, and this works really well.

    • KevininCO Post author

      Great to hear it’s worked out so well for you. Good point about the changes in water level messing with your sluice. I use Bazooka Goldtrap fluid bed sluices so the water level changes are not an issue so it really hadn’t occurred to me.

  • Rich Sutterfield

    I have a Bazooka 30″ Prospector but I seem to have bad luck with the flow rates, I get it set up and running nicely then it drops 6″ and the trap loads up. Or it rises a foot and goes under water. So I finally gave up and quit fighting the river until the monsoon tapers off and went to Plan B. But however you work it, it’s a pretty good spot. I’ll be out there in about 5 hours!

  • Mike

    This is one of my favorite spots. Big bend is a beautiful area and has some decent gold in several different spots on the bar. I’ve spent many days up there this summer. You don’t get a lot of traffic noise here like other spots in denver which gives you a nice peaceful sound of the river and wildlife in the area. Kevin is right, the top 6 inches seem to have the best gold. I have found some very nice sized flakes and a few pickers digging deep (5+ feet) although not as abundant as the finer gold in the top layers but usually that’s the case. I use a bazooka here and gold hog highbanker with 2 2000gph bilge pumps. I found it best to do a cleanout per hour of moving dirt which can be a pain but there are lots of black sands at big bend and I found after an hour or so you will start losing gold due to the density of the material. Ive set up a pan at the end of my sluicea on several occasions and an hour seemed to be when I would start losing gold out of the sluices. Experiment with your angles and try and make sure your equipment is level for better retention as well. Sometimes it can be tricky to keep things in place on these large cobble bars.

    Also one additional comment. If you go here there are quite a few vagrants around the area. While most of them I’ve encountered are fine and keep to themselves, I’ve ran into a few who are a little on the strange side and will ask you for money and car rides etc……as always stay safe anywhere you prospect and good luck getting that gold!

  • Kevin Post author

    A couple folks who used this page for guidance spent time at Big Bend just last Friday. Good job digging in January…hope they got great gold!

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