Life off Interstate 84 - Idaho

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(19 April 2014)  My name is Tim Bondy and the owner of this website.  As of Jan 1st, 2014 we moved to a different domain.  Please head over to the Bondy Blogs Website at  Different address, different system but same type of great articles, photos, stories and information. 

You are here: Mtn Home Outdoor Local Outdoor News Idaho Gold Panning ATV Day Trip

Idaho Gold Panning ATV Day Trip

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We headed up into the Boise National Forest on Saturday September 12, 2009 for some exploring and to test out our new gold panning equipment. By 9:30AM we were heading up towards the Featherville under brilliant blue skies and warming temperatures. We parked just south of Rocky Bar and unloaded our Arctic Cat ATV around 11:00AM and headed towards Trinity Mountain Road.

North fin of Steel Mountain in Idaho
Rugged scenery of the Phifer Creek Road

Our destination was a small unnamed creek drainage about 2 miles south of the Phifer Creek Campground on the Middle Fork of the Boise River. I checked out plenty of maps and mining claims in the area and was pretty sure the area I chose was a legal place to explore and pan for gold. Unfortunately the steepness of the land and abundant underbrush made my panning spot too difficult to even attempt getting to. But the ride to this area was quite wonderful. The skies remained bright blue and there was no wind.

 Green-Blue colored waters of the Boise River in Idaho
Middle Fork of the Boise River

We decided to take a ride up the Middle Fork Road as my wife had never seen this area. It wasn't long before we found a spot to relax along side the river. As with a lot the Middle Fork of the Boise River, the shallow pools are crystal clear with blue/green tinge to them. We considered taking a swim but without proper clothing, we decided to stay dry and just enjoy the views.

We headed upstream on the ATV for about 10-15 minutes before we decided to stop at another shallow fishing hole. While not as scenic, we enjoyed our stay on this rocky beach. We also decided to pull out the two gold pans and experiment. Within about 15 minutes we got the knack of gold panning and actually found some gold but nothing worth keeping.

Panning for gold on the Boise River
Panning for gold on the Middle Fork Boise River

We continued upstream along the Middle Fork Road toward Atlanta but most places we found would have been difficult to access...15-50 foot high river banks climbs that were near vertical. Still, the Middle Fork is just a plain beautiful river at this time of the year. The brush on the hills of the river canyon are just starting change colors to a reddish brown color. In a week or two, the Middle Fork might be in its full Fall colors?

It was time to head back home by the James Creek Summit Road into Rocky Bar. Our ATV ride on this wonderful Fall day amounted to about 45 very scenic and relaxing miles. Winter isn't too far away and this means getting back to the Owyhee's where we can continue to explore Idaho for an additional two months.

Gold Panning Adventures?
I doubt I will get fully involved in a hobby such as gold panning but with gold prices sitting close to $1,000 an ounce, I figure I might as well combine exploring with something that may pay the cost of the trip. We bought a gold panning kit at Cabella's Sporting Goods store for about $30. As you can imagine, it's neither professional equipment nor something that would support anything more than an occasional panning adventure. But if you are the talkative type and know where we might be able to find some gold in a relative easy place, I'd like to hear from you...I know, "when pigs fly".

See more pictures from this trip

Comments (2)
  • Robert  - gold panning help

    Nice article Tim. i just wanted to let you know that gold pan you bought is one of the best out there. Keep at it and you can learn to move a lot of dirt using it. If you would like somewhere with easy access to pan try grime's creek outside of idaho city. there is lots of trails to ride on and the creek runs alongside the road most of the way. Just be careful your not on private property. There are two 7 mile stretches that are private and not well marked.

  • Tim Bondy

    Robert, thanks for the info. I haven't been up in the Idaho City area yet. But have plans to explore Highway 21 in September and next summer. I will definitely head to Grimes Creek for a little gold panning. Private property is scared to me so I will take your advice and fully research ownership of the land before heading that way. I assume the owners don't have a problem traveling on the road along Grimes Creek or is it a public road cutting through private in-holdings?

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