On vacation with teens and I remember panning for gold with my grandparents when we traveled through 30 years ago. I'd seen quite a few advertised flashy places but I wanted the "old time" feel and to actually be able to pan for gold! I found Wade's here on TripAdvisor and decided it was just the place I was looking for! It's a family run business and has been for years!
When I first pulled in I wondered if we were at the right place (we were) and kind of got creeped out (too many times watching Hills have Eyes-lol). But as we got out of the car we were greeted by a very friendly little lady and older gent (the owners). We were escorted into a barn for a short history film on the place and then offered a tour or to pan. We skipped the tour and went straight to panning! We were walked through the WHOLE process from the pans and why they are the way they are to how to use the water to find the GOLD and what other hidden GEMS you may find. Then, after your lesson, YOU get to do the real thing! You put "pacer" dirt (dirt from a local gold mine!) in your pan then head down to the COLD stream (felt great on tired feet from a day of hiking in area) to do your panning for gold. A little assistance from the very friendly, helpful staff members and our pans of mud were whittled down to a pile of garnets and THERE... YES GOLD! My son ended up finding the largest flake found in weeks according to the owner! We ended up purchasing a BUCKET of pacer dirt and spending HOURS here having a blast. You get to keep your gold flakes (YES even the ones they give you at the start). As noted, this is "potluck": out of the three of us, my son's find was the only one. This includes our return trip a couple days later! Yes you read right... we had such a great time that we passed on all the other flashy panning places and ended up back at Wades for another bucket and more chances to strike it rich! That day luck was not with any of us and two buckets later no gold. But we still had a blast and the staff is the best I've ever met. I would recommend this to ANYONE wanting to experience some down time and re-live a part of American history!
This attraction has a great 'non touristy' feel, it wasn't crowded and you are surrounded by beautiful countryside.
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