Wednesday, August 10, 2022


Modern prospecting equipment for the RVer

In my first installment of this prospecting series, which you can read here, we covered essential equipment and where best to dig. In your search for the precious metal, you are looking for free gold that has been moved from its original deposit and washed down into streams through erosion. I pointed out that not all gold lies in the current streambed but that you may discover it in “ancient” streambeds—old riverbeds that are now dry. Working this ground requires a lot of hard work to move gravel from the ancient streambed to the current stream to wash, or it requires different equipment. Here, we’ll go over some additional prospecting equipment and tools to unearth gold and wash gravels in those old, dry deposits.

Modern prospecting equipment

In addition to my old-school prospecting kit, which includes a couple of different sizes of the essential gold pan, a trowel, and a hand shovel, I carry two pieces of modern prospecting equipment:  A Garrett Pro-Pointer, and a Grizzly Sluice. If my trip involves processing dry gravels at a distance from the stream bed, I might include a dry washer or ”highbanker” on the equipment list.

The Garrett Pro-Pointer is a very handy gold detector for retrieving gold from bedrock crevices.


The Pro-Pointer is an invaluable piece of small, compact equipment that can save hours of hard work. This mini gold nugget detector operates on a single 9-volt battery. It is handy for detecting gold in bedrock cracks (aka “crevicing”) and detecting the presence of gold among the rocks and crevices underwater in an active streambed. The Pointer is waterproof to a depth of twenty feet.

By its accuracy, the Pro-Pointer saves you the trouble of painstakingly scratching out every crevice in the bedrock at the bottom of an ancient streambed or beneath the surface of a flowing stream and allows you to concentrate on only those cracks and crevices that contain the yellow metal. If you detect gold in a notch or beneath larger rocks, you can dig out the gravel and pan it if the gold is not visible while crevicing. You can learn all about the capabilities and use of the Pro-Pointer with a YouTube video.

Grizzly Sluice

The Grizzly Sluice makes processing tons of gravel much easier than panning.

The Grizzly Sluice is an upright sluice box reminiscent of old-fashioned “49er” rocker boxes. The mini sluice can be set up on or near a stream and fed with your prospect gravel. Unlike a conventional sluice box, such as the popular A21 Mini Sluice, the Grizzly does not have to be immersed in the water or set at a precise angle to optimize water flow for processing gravels.

A dry washer or “highbanker” allows the prospector to work gravel at a distance from running water.


The highbanker is a sluice box with a motorized agitator attached to separate gold and other high-value materials from dry gravel when working near the stream is impossible. The highbanker is a little more expensive and cumbersome piece of equipment that you will only need if you discover a promising gold deposit on high, dry ground, such as one of those ancient streams mentioned earlier.

A wide array of more sophisticated high-tech equipment is available on the market, including sensitive (and pricey) metal detectors, floating dredges, automated gold pans, etc. For purposes of this article series, we are focusing on the essential equipment necessary to make your RV travel prospecting activity simple, fun, and rewarding.



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6 months ago

As a retired geological engineer, the first step in prospecting should be research, not running out to buy placer mining equipment. The most favorable places to find gold are mining districts where gold has already been found. So, before your next RV trip, look at maps of your potential campsites to see if any old mining towns or camps are nearby. Then go to to search for USGS Professional Papers or Bulletins that discuss those areas. Those very detailed publications will provide information and maps for the stream and terraces that actually contain placer gold. Determine whether any accessible public lands, not mining claims, are along those streams or terraces and pinpoint those areas on Google Earth so they can be easily identified in the field. If this armchair research proves positive, then maybe look on Craigslist for some prospecting-placer mining equipment being sold by some disppointed prospector who didn’t do any research!

The Lazy Q
6 months ago

Be safe when searching for the gold. My favorite location for target shooting near me is located on the southern end of the Sierra mountains in the Mojave desert. There are quite a bit of people who hike the washes with their portable mining tools. But note this area is multi use recreation from target shooting to OHV trails to I guess miners. I was setting up in a wash to shoot one day, had my table set up with my rifle on it, walked out 100 yards to place my targets. As I was walking back a guy loaded down with his tools comes walking down this same wash towards me…I ask what is he doing, says going to look for gold…duh, you just walked past my shooting set up so I suggest you go and find another wash to find your gold, he didn’t think it would be a problem. Go figure. There are a lot of old claims in that area not sure how many people find their gold but good luck. I did try my hand at it when I was stationed in Alaska for seven years, had a great time but came up empty.

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