Gold Prospecting Clubs

Where You Can Prospect Legally

Gold Panning | Gold in the Desert | Where to Find Gold

Join An Association

You may find that it rewarding to join one of the numerous recreational gold prospecting associations scattered across the desert Southwest, especially if you undertake the enterprise as a newcomer facing the stress of finding promising sites and negotiating governing regulations.  

You would certainly learn about potentially good sites for prospecting.  You may get access to proven sites.  You would learn more about prospecting equipment and techniques.  You would find guidance about the federal and state regulations.  More importantly, you could just go around having a generally and perfectly unapologetically and shamelessly good time. 

You might consider joining the Gold Prospectors Association of America, which has local chapters in all the Southwestern states, except for New Mexico.  You can learn more about the GPAA by visiting its web site or reading its magazine Gold Prospectors & Treasure Hunters in the Great Outdoors.  The association’s address is:

Gold Prospectors Association of America, Inc.
43445 Business Park Drive, Suite 113
Temecula, California 92590
Phone  1-800-551-9707

Associations in New Mexico include:

New Mexico Gold Miners Association
3031 Prenda de Plata NW
Albuquerque New Mexico 87120
Phone  1-505-839-4234

Gold Prospectors Association of New Mexico
Los Griegos Community Center
1231 Candelaria, NW

Albuquerque, New Mexico

For a list of all of the clubs  

Whether you take up gold prospecting by yourself or with an association, you will run a risk.  As Mark Twain said in Roughing It, if you sense that you are getting close to a find: “Your breath comes short and quick, you are feverish with excitement; the dinner bell may ring its clapper off, you pay no attention; friends may die, weddings transpire, houses burn down, they are nothing to you; you sweat and dig and delve with a frantic interest”



Know Where You Can Prospect Legally

Often, you may have to negotiate a labyrinthine maze of rules and regulations to get legitimate access to a prospecting site on public lands, doubly so if you propose to move up from simple non-mechanized equipment such as pans to powered equipment such as a suction dredge.

In U. S. National Forests, which are generally open to prospecting, you will still have to check with local USDA Forest Service offices to identify accessible areas and local regulations.  Without specific permission, you could not legally prospect on private land within the forest boundaries nor on sites with already established mining claims.  Moreover, you may find that the Forest Service has closed some areas to all prospecting and mining. 

On public lands administered by the U. S. Bureau of Land Management, you will have to check with local offices to identify the areas available and the rules for prospecting.  You could not prospect on lands that the BLM has withdrawn from mining operations, and you would need specific permission to prospect on lands with current mining claims. 

On public lands administered by the states, you will have to check with the appropriate offices for any regulations that would govern prospecting.  You may need to secure a mining lease or permit. 

In any event, you would not likely be permitted to prospect in national or state parks, monuments, recreation areas or wildlife refuges.  You will find the Indians reservations and the military posts closed to prospecting. 

If you discover a promising location on legally accessible lands, you may wish to establish your own claim, which you would file with the appropriate federal, state and county offices. 


eBook Gold Hunters Guide for the 21th Century

You can begin your contacts with the federal agencies at the following addresses:

U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

Arizona and New Mexico

USDA Forest Service

Southwestern Region
333 Broadway SE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
Phone  1-505-842-3292

Web Site


USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region
1323 Club Drive
Vallejo, California 94592
Phone  1-707-562-8737

Web Site


USDA Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Region
740 Simms Street
Golden, Colorado 80401
Phone  1-303-275-5350

Web Site

Nevada and Utah

USDA Forest Service
Intermountain Region
324 25th Street
Ogden, Utah 84401

Phone  1-801-625-5306

Web Site

U. S. Bureau of Land Management


U. S. Bureau of Land Management
Arizona State Office
One North Central Avenue
Suite 800
Phoenix, Arizona 85004-4427
Phone  1- 602)-417-9200

Web Site


U. S. Bureau of Land Management

California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, California 95825-1886
Phone  1-916-978-4400
Web Site


U. S. Bureau of Land Management
Colorado State Office
2850 Youngfield Street
Lakewood, Colorado 80215
Phone   1-303-239-3600
Web Site


U. S. Bureau of Land Management
Nevada State Office
1340 Financial Boulevard
Reno, Nevada 89502
Phone  1-775-861-6400

Web Site

New Mexico and Texas

U. S. Bureau of Land Management
New Mexico State Office (Includes Texas)
1474 Rodeo Road
Santa Fe, NM  87505
Phone &sp;&nbnbsp; 1-505-438-7400

Web Site


U. S. Bureau of Land Management 
Utah State Office
440 West 200 South, Suite 500
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Phone  1-801-539-4001

Web Site

Part 1 Gold in The Desert
Part 2 Panning for Gold
Part 3 Finding Gold
Part 4 Clubs and More- this page
Riding over Gold on Your ATV in Ocotillo Wells
Gold Fever in the Desert
Looking for gold in Arizona's washes
Crystalline Gold: Finding The Motherlode



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