From the dome of Atlanta’s Capitol to University of North Georgia's iconic Price Memorial Hall gold-covered steeple and the Smithsonian-worthy Chestatee River Diving Bell, Dahlonega’s gold legacy lives on. Located on top of the largest gold deposits found east of the Mississippi River, gold was first discovered completely by accident in the Dahlonega area in 1828, 20 years before the Gold Rush to California. Deer hunter, Benjamin Parks, tripped over a rock 2 ½ miles south of what is now Dahlonega and, upon inspecting the rock, he discovered that it was full of gold! Within one year’s time some 15,000 miners rushed to Dahlonega to find some gold for themselves. At that time there was so much gold in and around Dahlonega that it laid on top of the ground. Gold had been washing off the mountainsides for centuries.
Most of the gold that could be mined economically has been removed from the earth below Dahlonega, dug and carried out of many tunnels by miners since 1829. However, you can still experience a taste of America’s first gold rush in Dahlonega as you pan for your fortune in one of the area’s creeks and rivers and at the Consolidated or Crisson Gold Mines -- or you could always cross your fingers and hope to trip over that stray nugget. Tour an old gold mine and visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum, Georgia’s oldest, which offers visitors an up close look at Georgia’s gold mining history, including a complete collection of gold coins -- worth a small fortune -- minted right here in Dahlonega..
Experience Gold Fever in Dahlonega! The Gold Fever Package offers discounted tickets to local gold attractions where you can learn about the history of the Dahlonega Gold Rush, explore an underground gold mine, and try your hand at panning for gold yourself!
Though you may not strike it rich, in most cases the wealth is in the experience! While you can usually pan no more than a few cents worth of gold in an hour, there's always a chance of finding a stray nugget. Recreational panning for gold in most streambeds is allowed. Special permission, permits, or fees are not required when only a shovel and pan are used and no significant damage is done to the streambed. In-stream sluices and suction dredges are not allowed.
Contact the Blue Ridge Ranger District office at (706) 745-6928 to determine whether the mineral rights of a stream are publicly or privately owned or if any restrictions have been placed on the stream.