I'm relatively new to prospecting, bought some pans and a folding sluice, took my first trip a couple months ago to the Arkansas River downstream a bit from Point Barr in Colorado and managed to find some gold dust using a 14" and 10" pan (didn't have sluice yet). I think I found so little and such small gold because I was going through very little material *very* slowly and was not digging very deep, but was happy to find some on my first trip and was nice to visit mountains again. Now with a sluice box and a bit more knowledge, plus a week or so to dedicate to a little working vacation, I was eager to go back but the bad thing is it's a 12-hour drive from here in Southwest Missouri and honestly, I wonder if I'd have just as much luck looking for north MO/Iowa glacial gold in the creeks/on the Missouri River just a 4-hour drive away since I don't know where any productive areas are anywhere, no matter if it's CO or MO, and I'm still a newbie.
I guess I'm trying to feel out the next steps that come after being able to reliably pan and identify gold to developing into a small-scale miner/prospector. I'm lucky to have a lot of freedom with my work schedule but all my work is in front of the computer and I hope to get to a point where I dedicate around 3 months a year to prospecting/small-scale 1-2 person mining. After getting experience, are the next steps finding/buying a productive claim or finding some special spots out on public claims/BLM/FS land?
As far as Southwest Missouri goes, with all the lead/zinc mining here, all the minerals and pyrite, I'm convinced there are pinpoint spots in certain streams where flour gold could be found, below the bluffs maybe, not enough to be productive but just enough to be fun and interesting. Supposedly there is/was a gold mine south of Branson?
As far as learning more goes and maybe finding some decent gold along the way, are there any GPAA locations up near Kansas City/St. Joe? Or is it all about trying your luck along some public riverfront or getting lucky with permission to poke around creeks on private land or campgrounds?
Whether it ends up being Colorado or Missouri, looking forward to getting back out there these next few days, thanks in advance!