What exactly is the draw of gold panning in California? Part of it’s the nature. It’s good to get away from it all for a while, away from the TVs and tablets and phones. We have wifi here if you want to watch a movie or need to get some extra work done, but at home we too often relax from a hard day by parking ourselves in front of something electronic.

Here, we relax from something electronic by hearing the wind through the trees, the babbling of the brook as it runs past. When you’re gold panning, you’re focusing on a very specific task. You can do it alone or with a community of other gold panners. The conversation is light and communal, the general attitude carefree. People are willing to help and teach those who are just getting started.

In fact, our gold panning tours include instruction in the art of gold panning in California. It helps that anything you find, you keep. Any vacation where you go home richer is a good one.

Gold panning in California also connects you to a long history that stretches back to 1848. Much of that history isn’t taught in school. There are good parts and bad parts to it. Like most history, it’s more exciting and complex than the overview most of us are familiar with. By touching the tools, seeing the finds of years past, and hearing stories from experts at our gold panning museum, you can take that knowledge out into the river with you when you pan. There’s a feeling of wholeness and fulfillment to feeling like you’re part of a long history, and not just here in this moment. That’s empowering.

There’s a reason that California gold panning remains popular more than 150 years after the Gold Rush. It’s still fun. It’s part of what it means to be Californian. And more than anything else, it’s still profitable. Other areas in our country see brief panning booms. Here in California, ours never stopped.