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A Tour of N.W. Arizona Gold Country

docI’ve learned about hunting gold in the N.W. Arizona Desert from friends, reading, and trial and error.  I am by no means an expert, but I have fun and I find gold.  The information provided here is in no way meant to serve as “god’s truth”, it’s just my observations, and what seems to work for me.  The last year I have had what I consider an enlightening experience in that I have ventured far away from the familiar gold fields everyone has been working, and have been going to other more obscure areas looking for the same conditions.  The payoff has been worth it.  No trash to dig, no other people around, virgin ground, that has led me to virgin patches.  For me prospecting is sort of a personal religious experience that is best enjoyed in peace and tranquility. It helps me clear my head and rejuvenate the spirit.

While some things may be the same in all areas with placer gold, I’ve noticed it takes me a while to settle in to a new locale.  It seems when I leave my familiar surroundings, it takes me a couple of days to get the feel of a new place as all of the clues I have learned to look for, are not always present.

Never having been to Australia, I understand that there are many things that are different.  This little photo essay is just an introduction to my Aussie mates as to the conditions we hunt in over here in the desert country.

Doc holding snakeAn unindex friend.  While swinging June 26th. 2001, I bumped into this Mojave Green Rattle Snake with my coil, quite unintentionally, I can assure you.  It came right over my coil at me.  After backing away and screaming like a 12 year old girl I threw my pick at it and doinked it. I would have glady walked around it and went on my way, but it didn’t give me a chance.  What happen to this nonsense about rattle snakes not normally being aggressive?

Not being one normally prone to violence, I made an exception in this case.  Glad I always carry an extra pair of underwear with me.

Typical gold nuggets found in NW Arizona Desert Country.  The one on the left is 2.5 gram, and one on the right is 1.8 grams, found June 21, 2001, about 2 feet away from one another.  This picture was taken within about 30 minutes of recovering them, before I had cleaned them up. Each was only about 2 inches down in the dirt.  I was using an SD2200d and a 14 inch Coiltek Manufacturing mono.

Pictured to the left are the same nuggets after cleaning with a little acid. Gold from this area usually has a lot of iron staining.

I went back to the same location  where I found the above two nuggets, this being June 26th.   Using an 18 inch mono coil I found a little 1.6 gram nugget about 15 feet down the gully from the other two nuggets but it was about 10 inches down.  It looks like it has done a little traveling and has been there a while.  I left it in acid over night and the rust actually softened up and came off quite easily.  I may put the other two back in the acid for a 24 hour bath and see if they clean up a bit better.


The NW Arizona Desert has a prolific population of Joshua trees. The leaves are hard and sharp as needles.

This is a Trumpet Plant. I look for them because they are a clue that the area has the proper minerlization where gold can be found. They only grow in iron rich soil.

A small rusty quartz outcrop out of a ridge always catches my attention, I’ve had some good luck around these types of locations

I always look for red dirt, and decomposing quartz. Unlike Australia where all the dirt is red, we have patches of it. Once I’ve found these conditions, I always start working the gullies where water runs. When I start finding nuggets then I chain the sides of the ridges.

Here’s a small quartz outcrop opening into a small gully or wash. As you can see I had dug a hole at this location. Ah, um, probably to plant a flower! Yeah that’s it! I dug the hole to plant Tulips.

Here’s a typical side of a ridge with a carpet of decomposed quartz. I love these areas. I chain the entire side of the ridge. But I seem to have the most luck on benches, around the bases of Joshua trees, and under bushes.

Another quartz outcrop opening into a dry wash. I pulled 5 nuggets out of the wash about 3 feet downstream. They were found in a 10 foot diameter area. But some were on the side of the ridge. This outcrop is probably part of the same underlying quartz reef that gave up these nuggets. I wish I understood more about the Geological formation, but I don’t. My knowledge has come from trial and error and I just know what looks good. Unfortunately, I am probably passing up a lot of gold because I don’t have the complete understanding of trying to find the source.

Another nice gentle wash with quartz everywhere. I took three nuggets out of this particular wash. It seems that the low gently rolling ridges are the luckiest for me. It seems to indicate that they have been weathered and beaten down for quite a while. I’ve never had any luck following gullies up steep mountains, I’ve got a lot of exercise doing so, but no gold.

Senator Mine

Mined in the 1860’s this place is rather unique.  It is a gigantic quartz dome rising out of the desert floor.   Apparently the thing had gold veins running through it and the miners just started mining a vein and ran tunnels chasing the gold until it ran out.  This place probably still has gold all over in it, but the miners only took what they could see.  I have tried to detect around the area looking for float, but it is so trashy I usually get frustrated and go somewhere else.  I keep promising myself that sometime I am going to take a day and go through the tunnels with my metal detector and check the walls.   I’ll just bet there are other veins that are within inches of the surface.  If I got some of my Aussie mates over here, like Dave from Darwin, he’d make short work of this quartz monolith.

I have put these pictures here just because they are interesting as I have never seen a mine like this one before.  The view from the top is amazing.

Looking up Senator Mine from the road below, massive chunks of quartz appear everywhere.

Coming around to the side shows the entry path to the tunnels that riddle the enormous quartz dome.

Tunnels are every where as are piles of large chunks of mined quartz.

Some tunnels have caved in, but most remain intact, completely unsupported by any timbers.

Some tunnels are very shallow seeming to indicate that the vein ran out quickly.

Other tunnels, like this, one run completely through the dome. This is a picture taken from one end of the tunnel looking out the other.

Another tunnel shot showing the walls a bit better. The interior wall is numbered with paint. This was done so they knew which area the ore sample came from ??

This is the view looking North West from the top of Senator Mine. Way off in the distance is Lake Mead. The other side of the Lake is the State of Nevada.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour, I’d be interested in seeing the ground conditions of your gold country!