American Fork Canyon (UT) Question

Jun 7, 2014
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All Treasure Hunting
First I want to say hello to everyone since I'm brand new here. I'm from Florida, and working here at Hill AFB (Layton, UT) for months to come. I am not new to prospecting, having done it for 3 years north of Fairbanks, AK while in the military up there. But, I've been out of it for a good while since I live in Florida. I'm just looking to have some fun while I'm here in Utah.

I want to give prospecting a go here in Northwestern Utah, but I am unsure of where I can and where I can't. Everyone says American Fork is a good area, and most say above Tibble Fork Reservoir but that's all the info I can find. Is this area legally open for recreational prospecting, or is it full of private land/claimed land that I would need to be aware of? Also, does anyone pan up here near the Layton/Ogden area? Keep in mind I have a rental car not a 4x4 LOL so that will kind of limit my access I'm sure.

I know they say you can find what's open by going through the BLM and other state/fed agencies but I honestly have no idea where to even start researching land ownership/usage, so any and all assistance anyone could afford me would be tremendously appreciated.

Also, I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty if anyone wants a companion now and then :)

Thanks in advance
FloridaProspector a.k.a. Bob
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Oct 30, 2013
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Greetings, and welcome to Utah. I hope you enjoy your stay here. I live in Ogden so we're just about neighbors.

Prospecting in Utah can be a bit tricky due to different regulations on different streams. Most streams you can pan on if you can get permission from the landowner which is getting pretty hard any more due to most having had extensive damage done to property and equipment. The forest service land and BLM land is open to prospecting if there is not a claim on it but most of the gold bearing land is in the southern part of the state. Dredging requires a permit and they state that sluicing does as well. I'll include where to go for the regulations.

Most of the good gold producing areas here in the northern part of the state you will notice, are claimed by the sand and gravel companies at the mouth of most of the canyons of which there are many along the wasatch front. I don't think anyone would give you problems if you worked the small streams coming out of the mountains in your area that the gravel companies haven't taken over. Farmington Canyon has gold in it and there are abandoned mines all up and down it and the creek at high water runs through their tailings. The water is very high right now so be very careful in that canyon.

American Fork creek above Tibble Fork Reservoir is the usual spot many people go to work. Tibble creek is a small creek that runs into American Fork River. You need a 4x4 to get up into that area but you can work the river just above the reservoir and it's accessible by car for aways. There is gold all along American Fork River so if you can find a place to work, you should find some.

The Weber River has gold as well and if you can find a place to work you may have good success. Land owners are very touchy along the river so be sure to get permission first or find a public spot.

Sorry to get long winded. Here are a few links you may find helpful. For the current regulations:

Utah prospecting laws
Gold Panning & Dredging Regulations - Utah Geological Survey

There are 2 clubs you may be interested in joining. One is in Salt Lake City:

Salt Lake City gold Club
Utah Gold Prospector Club

And the other is in Ogden:

Ogden Club

The best book on Utah gold panning you can find on Amazon:
Gold Panning in Utah by Alan J. Chenworth

If you want some more info just PM me here and I will get in touch with you. Good luck.
Jun 7, 2014
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
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Thanks a bunch, lots of good info there.

I went down to AF yesterday but didn't do much panning, mostly looking. All the campgrounds were full and I wasn't sure where was okay to work and where wasn't. We drove up to a turnaround area before the road went real small and turned back there. Somehow I just don't think my rental car would be good beyond that point :)

Most exciting part of the day was when we missed the GPS telling me where to turn and so it recalculated a route about 50 miles out of our way and up some seat-grabbing, lane and a half, two way road from Provo Canyon Rd to Tibble Fork Reservoir - Alpine Scenic Highway I think! I think the mountains are awesome, but inches from massive drops isn't exactly my best thing :cussing: Florida guy you know, lots of FLAT land :)

There is a sign just above the reservoir that says notice to miners - prospectors. Can't exactly remember what it says but I think I understood it to mean mining and prospecting were not allowed. Probably just my interpretation, but it did concern me some. Still stopped in a couple spots but came up empty. I plan on going back probably this coming weekend and getting a little more serious than I was yesterday.

I'll have to get that book by Chenworth. I've heard of it before in quite a few online places and everyone does say it is the best info available for panning in the state. It's definitely on my list.

I have noticed that there are very few public access areas on a lot of rivers. Finding who owns them could be a major undertaking I imagine. I did think of Weber since I fish there quite a bit after work (close by - only like 15 minutes from the hotel). Finding accessible public land looks like it would be a problem there though, as well as in a lot of other places.

It's a little frustrating, knowing places but not knowing places I can legally work. I've got the basics I need on hand now I just need to work on finding some spots.

A bit long winded here too, sorry 'bout that.

I really do appreciate the info and I'll have to get down and do some homework and research.



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Jan 30, 2017
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Also be aware privately owned claims on national and state property are rarely properly marked as they should be. That's pretty common in every state. I don't understand why claim owners don't properly mark their claims.. paranoia maybe ? Anyhow it's easy to wander onto someone's claim without knowing it. It has happened to me several times. Also their are some individuals who illegally co-opt an abandoned claim without filling out the necessary paperwork. Essentially, these guys are genuine "claim jumpers"., and they can be extremely confrontational, even dangerous.

My advise is if you are approached by an armed individual claiming you are trespassing on a claim.. CO-OPERATE and politely disengage whether he's a legitimate claim owner, or not. Don't start arguing and getting loud. No amount of gold is worth getting KILLED over ! Have I ever been bushwhacked and robbed in this manner ? The answer is YES. I've been prospecting for over 30 years, and I've been bushwhacked by all manner of scoundrels several times. Once you leave the pavement, and enter the wilderness, and it's the Ole' West out there. Keep that in mind always.

One more factoid and I'm done. No tribal member can give anyone permission to prospect on Reservation Land, or charge anyone a fee to prospect on Reservation property. Native Americans do not own the mineral rights on Reservation Land. The Federal Government does. If you are caught on Reservation property prospecting (and this applies to Indians as well), you will be arrested by Reservation Police.
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