Home / Small Mining Regulations in Colorado


What are the regulations concerning small mining in Colorado?


Small mining regulations in Colorado are basically what you will find anywhere else.  There are, however, a few regulations for various parts of the state that are specific to that part of the state.  In general, you will not need a permit for a dredge that has a 4 inch nozzle or smaller.  Highbanking MUST discharge water into a holding pond before being released back into the waterway.  Panning, sluicing, and dry washing are allowed in all parts of the state that are not prohibited by  Federal, State or County law.  That being said, I suppose you might like to know what restrictions are out there that are not covered by "general regulations".  Here are the ones I know about.  


Boulder County - DO NOT  PROSPECT IN BOULDER COUNTY unless you are VERY SURE you are on public FEDERAL land.  Boulder County has a complete ban on any type of prospecting, including panning.  Don't even think about it.  They are aggressively enforcing the ban put into effect in 2006.


Arkansas River - The Arkansas River and its drainage has a limited open season between April 1st to October 1st for most motorized equipment.  All motorized equipment that pumps water from the Arkansas must have a BLM bond to work the Arkansas and its tributaries.  This bond is $25.00, good for two years, and is non refundable.  Dredging is allowed without further permitting up to 4 inch nozzle.  Highbankers must discharge into a holding pond before water is returned to the river. Dredging is confined to the high water mark of the river bottom.  (That means the sand or gravel bars that are covered at high water and dry in summer, NOT where water touches on the BANK)  Dry washing, panning and sluicing can be done year round.  Your bond can be obtained from the BLM at the Arkansas Headwaters building in Salida, Colorado.  2012:  NO DREDGING OR HIGHBANKING IS ALLOWED AT CACHE CREEk.  Check the Arkansas River Drainage page under Cache Creek for a link to the forms.  Highbanking and dredging along the Arkansas must have a bonding permit for EACH area you plan to use. 


Be aware that the BLM will aggressively ticket anyone undercutting the banks in any manner.  The undercutting of trees has become a serious problem along the Arkansas and in the Cache Creek area.  Prospect responsibly, and respect the land so that we do not lose further rights as prospectors.  NEVER undercut trees or banks in the pursuit of $25.00, less OR more, worth of gold.  Areas are closed every year to overzealous prospectors destroying land, river banks, and forests.  I live in Colorado.  Please, do not destroy my home.

In addition, you MUST be aware of where you are.  Respect private property and active or inactive current claims.  The local clubs can help you greatly with this, or you can contact us here at  


Copyright - Hooked on Gold 2005-2013