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Review of Wades Gold Mill

Wades Gold Mill
Ranked #4 of 27 things to do in Hill City
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: OPEN FOR 2017 on Friday, May 26. Open Memorial Day - Labor Day. An authentic experience - learn about the history of gold mining in the Black Hills, and try your hand at panning for gold. Guided tours, gold panning lessons.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Hastings, Michigan
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
47 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed August 24, 2012

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.

Visited August 2012
3 Thank Sonia B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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137 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
new york
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“great individual attention”
Reviewed August 20, 2012

If you are at all thinking of trying out gold panning while visiting the black hills, this is the place to go.

Took my family (kids 10,12,13) who had a blast. This is a low key, family owned business. After viewing a short movie, you are given a choice whether to get a tour of the old mining equipment/process, or just to try panning. We bypassed the tour, which we were told would take an hour.
First you are tought how find gold flecks from a small sample of dirt 'pre-loaded' with a small amount of gold flakes. Then you dig up a pan worth of dirt from the "mine" and head down to the stream (feet in) and search for some more. The process took over an hour, and a staff member spent the whole time with us very patiently, identifying lots of the rocks and minerals my kids were curious about. We left with two more flecks and a small bag of garnets, and a bunch of other neat rocks. Well worth the price of admission, and one of the true highlights of our week in the region.

We had been panning one other time years ago in Alaska. Given a quick speech, a pan of silt and let go (not knowing what to really do) on your own. This was a completely different experience. Would not at all hesitate to come back.

Visited August 2012
2 Thank NewYorkGutdoc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Total gem”
Reviewed August 14, 2012 via mobile

The only thing our six year-old talked about before coming to the Black Hills from Chicago was panning for gold, so we decided to make it our first stop on our first morning. Wade's far surpassed any expectations we might have had for this. We actually spent three hours panning for gold and touring the museum. The place is family run and far below the radar relative to the well-advertised sites. We had two employees sit with us for an hour teaching us how to pan for gold. My 6 year-old had one-on-one instruction. This was an amazing way to start our trip to the Black Hills. Highly recommend.

1 Thank mom_triathlete
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Falmouth, Maine
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Fun for teenagers too!”
Reviewed August 14, 2012

We spent a lovely, peaceful 90 minutes at Wade's Gold Mill. The four of us took the panning lesson and then panned our bowl full of dirt. Bob was very patient with us and encouraging - it's harder than it looks. The teenage boys (15 and 17) enjoyed the experience very much. We didn't do the mill tour.

This is a family run business, very low-key and lacking in touristy flash. I think that's what we really liked about it, but when you first pull up, you might wonder whether you are in the right place. You are and it is worth the stop.

Visited August 2012
1 Thank Mainetraveller2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Genoa, Illinois
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“A step back in time”
Reviewed August 2, 2012 via mobile

We did this today on recommendation from another family we met at our campground. It was uncrowned, untouristy, has family heritage information that goes with the gold mine which was passed down. We should have done the mill tour but I was concerned about the time factor with other dvtivutues already planned, so we did the panning lesson and had a great time, relatively cheap fun and gave us more insight into the gold prispector's world.

2 Thank Andrea O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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