Hi- Thanks for your question!
In most gold-rich areas because of existing mining claims staked under state or federal law, you would have to worry about jumping someone’s mining claim To prevent this conflict the federal government has established recreational mining areas. No permits needed to mine in these areas if you limit your tools to portable field equipment, such as a hand operated picks, shovels, and pans.
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Great info at: http://mygreatalaskaadventure.com/adventures/great-alaska-adventure-5-hatcher-pass/
How do I get there? Petersville Road leaves the Parks Highway at Trapper Creek, about 115 miles north of Anchorage and 243 miles south of Fairbanks. The first three miles are paved. The next 15.7 miles (to the Forks Roadhouse) are maintained gravel road with several outstanding view points of Mount McKinley. Beyond the Forks Roadhouse are another 14.9 miles of primitive road before reaching the downstream end of the Recreational Mining Area. It is recommended that the last 14.9 miles be traveled using a 4-wheel drive vehicle or a vehicle with high clearance. Check at the Forks Roadhouse for road conditions, especially if it has been raining. There are no services beyond the Forks Roadhouse. Peters Creek must be forded to reach the upper end of the Recreational Mining Area. This ford and a second ford in the same area have been approved by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game as a vehicle crossing.
More info at: http://goldinalaska.blogspot.com/2011/01/petersville-recreational-area.html
Where is the Hatcher Pass Public Use Area located?
Approximately two miles north of Palmer, on the Glenn Highway, follow the signs showing a left turn to the Independence Mine Historical Park and Hatcher Pass. After turning off the Glenn Highway onto the Palmer Fishhook Road the public use area begins at approximately mile 7.8 of the Palmer Fishhook Road.
In addition to gold, you can collect many beautiful types of rocks including agates, thunder eggs, jasper, common opals, serpentine, obsidian, bloodstone, copper minerals, fossils, ammonites, jade, hematite. and iron nodules.
How do I get to the Caribou Creek Recreational Mining Area and what facilities are available?
The CCRM Area is located at approximately mile 104 of the Glenn Highway next to the Lion’s Head rock formation. You will see a sign at the turnoff. The CCRM Area is relatively undeveloped. A steep trail leads down to the creek from the gravel parking lot. Only pedestrian traffic is permitted on the trail (sorry, no all terrain vehicles—ATV’s). Physical fitness, health, and age should be considered due to the steepness of the trail. Private facilities offering gas, food and lodging are within 10 miles of the area.
Between May 15th and July 15th each year, the following equipment may also be used:
ü Metal detector
ü Backpack power drill or auger
ü Small sluice box less than 16” wide and 6’ long fed by a hand shovel with 1” pump limit
ü High banker/rocker box fed by a hand shovel with 1” pump limit
More info about the area: http://www.alaskavisit.com/visitors/itineraries/scenic-drives-and-rv-trips/glenn-denali-and-parks-highway-loop/
In the booklet at the following link, it tells you about the area and it explains basic gold panning techniques, how to find gold, and mining rights and guidelines: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5274730.pdf
See videos showing Panning for Gold In Alaska http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CT2Ba7wk-M
Patience that was very helpful Thank you Bill