Rattlesnake Gulch is a historic mining area north of Delta off Highway 50. It was private land which the BLM reacquired so it’s open to panning but can’t be claimed! The turnoff is between mile marker 61-63 and is marked well (Rattlesnake Gulch Rd 730). The old road down to the Gunnison River is in rough shape, high clearance vehicles only are advised.
Years ago some pretty big holes were dug up on dry land around here, you’ll still see some of the diggings. This led to BLM concerns so they increased restrictions on what we can do on this land. Disappointing but I’m very happy the creation of the National Conservation Area here included prospecting as an approved activity.
Here’s what we are allowed to do, from the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area Resource Management Plan p. 47 (document p. 97):
REC-AU-06: Allow casual use recreational gold panning in the NCA. Panning will be restricted to collection of material with non-motorized and non-mechanized equipment below the surface of the water. It will also be restricted to processing of material with non-motorized and non-mechanized equipment (e.g., underwater sluices). Re-evaluate if resource conditions warrant restrictions or closures. Close the D-E NCA to all other forms of recreational prospecting.
Signage at the site provides a simpler version of the prospecting rules at this unclaimable site.
There may be seasonal closures for fish spawning or other concerns so ask the local BLM office before you head out. http://www.blm.gov/office/grand-junction-field-office
Also remember, this is pans and sluices only, sorry no mechanized gear.
NOTE: I have not yet been to this site myself. Field research is planned soon! Meanwhile, I’d love for anyone who’s been there to provide additional info…
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