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Back east, and then south on Highway 24, you will pass through the town of Granite.  The general store there is well known and its' history is nothing less than amazing.  Depending on the mood of the year, gold panning has been allowed along the Arkansas River in Granite, but only "pans and hands" are allowed.  That means not even a shovel is allowed to put material into your pan with.  You might want to try using a rock you find along the shore to scoop or scrape material into your gold pan, but make sure it is open for prospecting! 

 

 

To the west of Granite you will find Cache Creek and Lost Canyon.  Cache Creek has been developed by the BLM into a recreational prospecting site open to the public with the correct "bonding" permits for highbanking required. To access this area, take the dirt road that runs behind the Granite Store west to the road that takes off to the south where the power lines are, known as the "power line" road.  Follow that south until you reach the locked gate about a mile and a quarter south on the power line road.  Park in the parking lot to the east and west at the front of the gate.  You can use a highbanker anywhere within the marked boundaries of the area with the proper permit. The BLM has begun a program to monitor who is in there, and each vehicle is required to fill out a form to drop in the box. NOTE:  The power line road is very rough in spots and the area has had bouts of VERY limited water.  Camping is allowed in the area BUT NOT IN THE DAY USE PARKING AREA.  Only the camp host is allowed to be in there at night.  Please obey the signs and restrictions in the area.

 

On up the road to the west of the power line road, and up the first road going south and through the switchbacks, at the back of the canyon sits the active Lost Canyon placer mine, a privately owned placer mining operation.  As of 2011 I am not sure the status of this claim, as it has again been sold and the new owner is said not to want anyone up there.  You will pass other marked mining areas that are still active or there is at least interest in.  Stay off those roads and respect the owners rights by not walking in, either.  There are, however, many other roads in the area that you can explore.

 

Back at Highway 24, and on south towards Buena Vista you will come to Clear Lake reservoir to the west of the river, great for fishing.  The bar there where the two rivers converge below the dam is known as Georgia Bar.  You could probably put a pan in while you are fishing below the water outlet, but don't try the bar as it is claimed and used during the season by a dredging group.  We know a few of the members of this group, and they might not mind if you are using a pan, but keep your bigger equipment out of there unless they are present and you have permission.  This group is also into education and probably would give you a lesson on dredging if you asked.  (2011-  I am not sure if this area is still under claim as regulations for the Arkansas River have changed substantially)

 

The rest of the bend at Georgia Bar is private property or claimed.  Drive into the camping area on the east side of the highway, just down the road about a couple of blocks from Clear Creek, and take a look at the stone house there that sits on the riverbend.  You will also see an old cabin off in the bushes across the river near the edge.  The area has been a favorite camping spot for prospectors for over a hundred years.  (Probably longer) 

If you take the road west, past Clear Creek reservoir, you will come to the old townships of Vicksburg and Winfield.  There are several old cabins that have been preserved, a couple that are still used by private people, and there is a  

 

walking tour of them.  There was an extensive gold and silver mining community in the mountains surrounding these towns, and a good book will tell you more of its history.  While we know this part of the State best, there are areas that we know better.  So much to investigate, so little time!  We have traveled up that way once or twice, but the valley always calls us back.  A pan on the streams in the area might be fun, but watch for marked claims and private property. 

 

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