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Indiana went relatively untouched by prospectors in the 19th century. A major mining operation has never been attempted, nor has any significant gold discovery been reported. Nonetheless, the state has become an unlikely favorite of independent prospectors. While commercial prospecting is unlikely to be successful in Indiana, recreational panning can prove fruitful. Local hobbyists regularly pan the state's waters.

Types of Gold in Indiana

Indiana is not nearly as rich as some other states in America. However, a determined prospector has a chance of finding gold in the region. Like in Ohio, most of Indiana's gold is thought to have come from glacial deposits in Ontario Canada. Lode gold is almost unheard of in the state. Most discoveries are of placer and flour gold. Because of its small size, Indiana gold can be a challenge to capture using a pan. A pan can still be effective, but a sluice box will give you better results.

Glacial Map of Indiana
Glacial Map of Indiana

Laws and Regulations

Indiana has lax prospecting laws. Of course, there are still a number of rules and regulations which you should consider before prospecting here.

Prospecting with motorized equipment requires a permit from the Indiana Division of Water. Many prospectors in the state choose to use a gold pan and a sluice box because they don't require permits. Prospecting in a state or national forest requires an additional permit which can be obtained for free from the operators of each individual forest.

In addition, there are certain waterways that are off-limits for prospecting. Refer to the Indiana gold prospecting brochure for details.

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Best Counties for Prospecting

Gold has been discovered in a few different counties throughout Indiana. In the section below, we'll examine some of the richest counties in the state.

Brown County

Brown County is one of the highest producers of gold in all of Indiana. Much of the glacial deposits that drifted down from Ontario centuries ago came to rest in Brown County. The most noteworthy Brown County discoveries have come from Salt Creek. This creek is a tributary of the East Arm Little Calumet River, which is also known for its gold production.

Salt Creek is a popular spot among tourists, which makes panning the area in the summer difficult because of the crowds. During warmer months, prospectors are advised to get to Salt Creek early in order to secure a comfortable spot.

Monroe County

There are gold-bearing rivers all over Monroe County. Most prospectors focus their attention on Sycamore Creek. When compared to other creeks in Indiana, Sycamore Creek has higher gold content. However it should be noted that its gold is quite fine. Therefore using just a gold pan can be a challenge.

One advantage of panning in Sycamore Creek is that the gold rests in its banks. This is convenient as it means prospectors don't need to venture deep into its waters to have a chance of success.

There is another popular spot in Monroe County named Gold Creek. Unsurprising given its name, prospectors have had success here. Indian Creek is another place you can try.

Warren County

Warren County is one of the more challenging prospecting locations in Indiana. Newcomers to the hobby should go elsewhere in the state. But if you're a veteran looking to test your skills then Warren County may be worthwhile.

The county's most popular gold panning spot is Falls Creek, which contains a decent amount of flour gold. But even the more sizable pieces of Falls Creek gold rarely exceed an eighth of an inch. We recommend panning Falls Creek in conjunction with other areas of Indiana. If you're going to pan Falls Creek exclusively then you'll likely have to spend long hours and use a sluice box to have success.


Indiana isn't one of the better states in the nation to find gold. Prospecting here as a novice is usually only justifiable if you are a resident of the state. Indiana is not recommended for out-of-towners with no prospecting experience. We suggest traveling to Indiana only if you are experienced enough to capture its fine placer gold.