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7 Rivers In Montana That Are Full Of Gold

Montana is the country’s seventh-largest gold producer, with most of the state’s gold regions located near the Idaho border in the west. Idaho is rated 9th overall. The western half of the state, near the Continental Divide, is a rough mountainous territory that is wealthier than the rest of the state, which is mostly flat prairie country.

Montana has been mining since the 1850s, with the 1860s being the heyday of the industry. Bucket dredges worked several creeks and rivers in Montana in the mid-twentieth century, yielding millions of ounces of gold.

For nearly 150 years, Montana has produced tens of thousands of ounces of gold.

Panning for gold nuggets and fine gold in Montana’s rivers is still possible. There are seven Montana rivers worth seeing listed below.

1. Missouri River

The Missouri River is such a large river that it runs through Montana, there are various places along with it where you might discover gold.

South of Cascade, placer gold can be found in the Missouri River. The minor districts located above Little Prickly Pear Creek are most likely the source of these concentrations.

Hauser Lake, and the area around Canyon Ferry, are two more gold-mining hotspots northeast of Lake Helena. El Dorado Bar, on the east bank of the Missouri River near the mouth of Soup Creek, is one of these spots. The natural occurrences of sapphires are of great importance in this area. Early miners were also interested in Dana’s bar.

McCune Bar, Gruel Bar, Spokane Bar, and French Bar, which are said to be the richest, are some of the other good spots in the vicinity. All of these deposits were found along the Missouri River.

Indian Creek is a Missouri River tributary located just outside of Townsend. The majority of early mining occurred west of Townsend when rich gravels were discovered in ancient tertiary bench deposits.

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2. Big Hole River

The Big Hole River is one of Montana’s most beautiful rivers. The Big Hole River flows for 155 miles in Montana before draining into the Jefferson River at Twin Bridges, beginning at Skinner Lake in the Beaverhead Mountains near the Idaho border.

In 1864, gold was discovered in French Creek, a branch of the Big Hole River. Although production data are incomplete, it is estimated that more than $5,000,000 in gold was mined in the first few years after discovery. Near the Continental Divide, the district is located.

Placers have been worked along the Big Hole River and its many tributaries, including Basin Creek, Fish Creek, and Camp Creek, Soap Gulch, and Moose Creek, all of which drain into the Big Hole River.

Despite the fact that it produced a lot of gold during its heyday, it is still one of Montana’s richest rivers. Prospectors continue to flock to the Big Hole River in search of placer gold.

3. Boulder River

Although there are few gold discoveries along the Boulder River, some of its tributaries were heavily mined by early Montana miners.

Cataract Creek, a tributary of the Boulder River, is located near the town of Basin. Small-scale sluicing and hydraulic operations have produced a significant amount of gold in this area. Overland Creek, Rocker Creek, and the nearby gulches were also very productive. In this area, there are also some placer deposits along High-ore Creek and Muskrat Creek. Around Basin, placers can be found in Basin Creek, Red Rock Creek, and Lowland Creek.

The river is a popular fly-fishing site. Several religious camps, a guest ranch, and several USFS campgrounds are among the valley’s other attractions. Several guard stations, trailheads, and picnic spots are also maintained by the Forest Service in the valley.

4. Blackfoot River

There are various gold-bearing sites in the Lincoln area. Most of the streams in this area, including the Blackfoot River, contain gold.

The gold in Elk Creek and the Blackfoot River comes from the Garnet mountain range. The streams that feed the upper Little Blackfoot River have a lot of good placer gold resources.

The Blackfoot River is known for its recreational activities, which include fly fishing, rafting, canoeing, and inner tubing, among others. The Blackfoot is a swift, cold river with numerous deep holes, making it ideal for a variety of trout.

The Missoula Floods, massive glacial lake outburst floods that occurred at the conclusion of the last ice age, produced the river’s canyon and valleys.

In 1908, a historic flood hit the Blackfoot River and the Clark Fork. The Blackfoot River is known for its recreational activities, which include fly fishing, rafting, canoeing, and inner tubing, among others. The Blackfoot is a swift, cold river with numerous deep holes, making it ideal for a variety of trout.

The Missoula Floods, massive glacial lake outburst floods that occurred at the conclusion of the last ice age, produced the river’s canyon and valleys.

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5. Yaak River

Placer gold was originally discovered in the Yaak River in 1864. During the gold rush, significant amounts of placer gold were not recorded, but mining resumed subsequently.

Placer gold discoveries rose in the 1880s, with over 10,000 ounces of lode gold recorded from quartz-pyrite veins in sandstone. Along the trip up the mountain, you’ll come across smaller Yaak River tributaries. The majority of the area is the national forest, which is available for prospecting, and several of these creeks contain gold.

6. Clark Fork River

Ninemile Creek, a branch of the Clark Fork River, yielded 100,000 ounces of placer gold by 1954. Upper Kennedy Creek eventually yielded lode gold.

Thousands of years ago, the ancient waters of glacial Lake Missoula flowing into the Clark Fork River aided in the discovery of placer gold for early Montana miners.

The Clark Fork River has a tributary named Gold Creek. Bench deposits on Gold Creek, Pioneer Creek, French Gulch, and Wilson Bar were swept away by hydraulic giants. It was also mined in Pikes Peak Creek. The most profitable creeks in the area were Pioneer, French, and Squaw.

For the most part, the gold in the Clark Fork River is very fine. I haven’t heard of any gold nuggets being discovered in the river. Floods can change gold around dramatically, and locations that are poor one year may be ideal for panning the following. Years with a lot of snowmelt can have a big impact on the river’s course.

There are numerous gold prospecting possibilities available to gold prospectors. Western Montana is abundant in a variety of minerals, including gold. Despite the fact that mining activity on the Clark Fork River was historically restricted, there is plenty of gold to be found here. Several prosperous gold settlements sprouted up along the Clark Fork River’s path.

The Clark Fork River is littered with abandoned mines today. Many of these mines continue to pollute the river today. As a result, we strongly advise prospectors to exercise extreme caution when prospecting in this area. Make sure to properly dispose of any garbage you make when panning in the Clark Fork River to prevent adding to pollution.

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7. Bitterroot River

Along the Bitterroot River, many valuable gold resources have been mined. Hughes Creek is a Ravalli County tributary that flows gold into the Bitterroot River. From 1904 until 1948, it produced 88 percent of the county’s placer gold. A number of miners have entered the area to explore it, and small amounts of lode gold have been discovered, but no other significant discoveries have been made.

Panning along gravel bars, as with many rivers in Western Montana, will provide some good gold. The Bitterroot River’s mainstem begins at the confluence of the East Fork and West Fork Bitterroot Rivers. From the Bitterroot Mountains to the west and the Sapphire Mountains to the east, the mainstem receives numerous tributaries. Snowmelt dominates the watershed, with considerable interannual changes in streamflow and peak flows between mid-May and mid-June.

We’ll admit that the Bitterroot River isn’t as productive as it once was. However, any prospector who understands what they’re doing may still find a considerable amount of gold. Prospectors who are new to the region are less likely to succeed.

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