You see, you don't travel to as many old mining towns as we do and not try your hand at a little gold panning. It just isn't right. Trust me. So we have stopped into these little tourist traps in Alaska and two different locations in Montana.
So how do they work? They all seem to be the same. You purchase a bag of dirt and they supply the tools to pan it. Of course the bags are "salted" which means every bag has some gold flakes and other stones placed in the dirt for the customer to find and while that may be thought of as cheating but if you want people to keep visiting your operation they had better find something in that bag of dirt. It's the experience you're buying and that's the way you should look at it. Anyone can experience what it's like to pan for gold without having to experience the repeated failure that is the reality of panning for gold. There's no cold river water to chill your feet and all the large chunks of rocks have already been classified prior to your own panning.
Now you're not going to get rich playing with the "salted" bags but you'll get enough to make a good souvenir and for some it may even become a gateway activity that could provoke future purchases of gold pans and metal detectors so do this at your own risk but if it gets you out of the house then it's a win, right?
We here at Route To Adventure want to wish all of you a very merry Christmas and as always stay safe in your travels.