Crow Creek Mine
One of the best recreational gold prospecting mines in Alaska is just south of Anchorage at Crow Creek. The total estimated production since 1898 is 42,500 oz. A dredge operator reported collecting 1.5 oz. of gold per 6 hour day in the Fall of 1996. We pulled out two flakes in about an hour and a half working a place along the creek with just a pan, shovel, bucket and hand sluice. And when our friends Jon, Cindy, Erin, Jon Jr., Stuart and Anne helped, we found five flakes.
To find this mine, head south out of Anchorage on the Seward Highway. After approximately 40 miles, take a left on Alyeska Highway. After a mile and a half there will be signs indicating a left turn to Crow Creed Road. Follow this road for about 3 to 4 miles and look for signs to the right marking the entrance to the mine.
The mine is privately owned and operated. The active mining by the company was abandoned many years ago, but it still operates as a recreational area. At the entrance everyone pays at least $3 to enter. Pay $5 and you get to pan the creek all day. They provide you with a pan and a poke of dirt with guaranteed gold, and give a demonstration on how to use the pan and water to find the gold. There is a practice area so you can learn how to use your pan before hitting the creek. They also rent hand sluices and metal detectors for a small fee. You are permitted to bring your own dredge, but the daily entry fee is higher for using this equipment.
The mine features a group of historic buildings used during the heyday of the mine production. Visitors are welcome to wander through the buildings and examine the equipment the miners used. The area is incredibly picturesque and an ideal place to capture some great pictures of frontier Alaska back dropped with amazing vistas of nature. While we visited in 1999 a couple held their wedding right in the middle of the mining camp. The groom had mined the gold for the wedding rings from the creek himself.
While gold can be found anywhere in the creek, there are some better places to look than others. Gold is found upstream from the mine in the gravel bars about a half mile to a mile above the historic buildings. However, the best place to find gold is to follow the stream down to the mouth draining into Glacier creek, where it is found in the bedrock and benches (areas where the creek flowed and deposited silt and gravel, but are now dry and higher than where the creek is now located).
For those who wish to stay at the mine, camping areas are provided for a small fee. The campground can accommodate both tents and motor homes. There are outhouses, but no running water at the campsites. Nearby the small community of Girdwood features restaurants, grocery stores and plenty of lodging as well.For those who prefer hunting biota instead of rocks, the berry picking along Crow Creek Road is phenomenal. Beginning in late July pickers can be seen all along the road. Local berries include blue berries, black huckleberries and salmon berries.
Last visited: July 2000