Recreational Gold Panning and Sluicing on State Land

The Department of Natural Resources adopted rules aimed at making recreational gold panning and sluicing on state land accessible to outdoor enthusiasts.

Land Use Order of the DNR Director

Now, recreational gold prospectors have permission from the DNR to pan for gold on land where both the surface and mineral rights are owned by the state.

To find public land where the state owns both the surface and mineral rights -- also referred to as "fee lands" -- click on the Land and Mineral Ownership map to select a county for a map showing ownership rights.

Although a 40-acre parcel may be marked as state-owned, a number in the upper right corner of each parcel will show how much of the 40 acres is owned by the state. If only a portion is owned, contact the local Forest Resources Division supervisor for more information. Click on Forest Resources Division Office for contact information.

For the list of designated trout streams in Michigan, see Fisheries Order-210.10. For additional help in locating these trout streams, click on Maps for Inland Trout and Salmon Fishing to select an individual map. Designated trout streams are shown in color.

The best way to check for known mussel beds is to call the local fisheries supervisor in the area where you wish to pan for gold. Click on this link to DNR Fisheries Management Units for more information.

Under certain circumstances a permit may be required from the Department of Environmental Quality.  Additional information can be found at DEQ General Permit Categories.  Questions or comments concerning the use of State land for recreational gold panning and sluicing should be directed to the Forest Land Use Specialist, Forest Resources Division, at 517-284-5862 or

Some selected references and resources on gold in Michigan can be found at the links below:

DEQ Gold Mines, Explorations, and Prospects - Western UP Map

DEQ Gold-Related References

OGS Digital Geology Library Catalog