Our beautiful Rocky Mountains offer so much in the way of fun and recreation, and many activities are right in our own backyard. Idaho Springs, just a few minutes up the road from Evergreen, has a real “western mountain town” feel and provides access to a unique and historic pass time – gold panning! If you’re looking for a safe and fun family activity, or possibly you’ve got gold fever and just haven’t told anyone, you can head to a place like the Phoenix Gold Mine, where they’ll connect you with a real miner who can show you the authentic method for gold panning. The Phoenix Mine has a stream running right up along the road. It’s a typical Colorado mountain stream in a beautiful setting, which picks up gold from the mountains and brings it down where it can be extracted by panning.
Gold panning is a process of separating gold from the sand and gravel that get washed out of the mountains with the gold. It is fairly easy to do with a little practice because gold is heavier than other sediments in the stream, but gold panning does require some patience. You work the pan contents so that the gold settles to the bottom, and wash the lighter stream sediments out of the pan, through a process of shaking the pan and submerging it in the stream. After the lighter sediment has washed out, you agitate the pan, tilt it, and let the pile spill across the bottom – then feel the excitement when you see the pieces and flecks of gold left behind. Catch a little gold fever, and at the same time, get a piece of Colorado history by stepping into the shoes of a miner. You may just strike it rich, possibly not monetarily, but definitely in life experience!