Norwood Bridge Recreational Placer Mining Area – Prospecting Tips

The BLM reacquired the land and river south of Norwood Bridge after it had been in private ownership. This unclaimable land along the San Miguel River is now available for your non-motorized prospecting.

Gold prospecting area, BLM
San Miguel River in this area

 


San Miguel River gold prospecting
BLM map with GPS coords (image courtesy of US BLM)

The gold here is pretty good! You get to this area by taking highway 145 easterly and southerly from the town of Norwood in western Colorado.

If you haven’t gotten your permit from the Montrose BLM, you can only pan and sluice within 100 feet of the bridge. To get the permit, either stop in the office in Montrose during regular business hours at 2505 South Townsend, Montrose …or you can print off the form from their website, sign it and send it in via email (call for current email address) for their signature. Do this WELL in advance of your visit! Here’s the form but DON’T use the email address shown, it’s out of date:

https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/uploads/CO_MINING_05042017_DOC_Rec%20Placer%20Mining%20Notification%20Form-fillable.pdf

The recreational area is well over a mile long, closer to two miles I’d say. The challenge is the lack of parking along it. I was able to park at 38.1202 -108.1899 and hike down a steep hill to the river. This spot gives easy access to an inside bend with a cobble bar and decent gold. I quickly found +50 mesh gold and down to -100 mesh here. There are other spots to park along the edge of the road along here but it’s all very informal parking.

Realistically, this area has a limited season. It is a wild undammed river so during spring/summer snowmelt the river can be very high. Timing varies by year but later summer and fall have lower water flows and better river access for prospecting.

You can camp just south of here at the BLM managed Lower Beaver Campground. This campground has pit toilets, shady sites, mosquitos :(, a boat ramp and it’s free. Yup, free camping! Smaller RVs will do fine here as well as tents. There’s also good gold in the river at the campground but it’s currently claimed so stay out! The campground is at 38.1113 -108.1884

Note: I don’t approve of the term “recreational mining” but that is the formal name of this area, given to it by the BLM.

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