South Fork Koyukuk River
the mighty Koyukuk! This fork is a
rather shallow and wide portion of the river, and a great place to try your hand
at gold panning and sluicing. We spent a couple of hours on this river and recovered a
number of specks of gold. None of
it was worth very much and more difficult than finding it was trying to transfer
it into the film canisters we were using as receptacles.
This was Aliza’s first time attempting to find gold, and she recovered
three or four specks. This is a
nice area to pan because you can scoop up a bunch of earth and usually find at
least one speck. Other places you
may find bigger pieces, but you will work many pans with no recovery.
Doug found the richest strike on a side bank of the river
where gold had settled on the clay layer. Bends
in the river have good gold bearing banks.
Look for where the water seems to hit a bank before continuing.
Heavy gold settles out in those areas.
We sluiced out a dish pan of dirt and clay he dug out, and then
transferred the “heavies” into the Aliza’s and his pans for a final
rinsing. Sure enough, they each
found multiple specks in the bottom of the gold pans.
The bridge over the South Fork of the Koyukuk River is
located at mile 156.3 of the Dalton
Highway. Recreational gold panning
is open in the areas from the bridge upriver 1.5 miles and downriver 2 miles.
However, people are not allowed to gold pan in the pipeline right-of-way.
This is defined as 27 feet from either side of the pipeline. The area is open to the use of metal defectors, hand fed
sluice and rocker boxes and, of course, gold pans. There is no charge
to look for gold here as it is open to the public.
There is no charge to look for gold here as it is open to the public.
We drove out onto the banks of the river using one of the
pipeline access roads. On the
opposite side of the road from the pipeline there is a large parking lot with a
toilet. Another family even camped
there. The drop down to the river
bed is pretty steep, and should not be attempted unless the vehicle has four
wheel drive and good ground clearance. There
is no charge to camp or use the facilities here.
Last Visited: July 2001