Take the Family on a Road Trip for the 2019 West Coast Gold and Treasure Shows
The GPAA’s 2019 West Coast Gold & Treasure Shows offer individuals or families a great opportunity to load up the car and have some of that memorable togetherness you only truly can get with a good road trip. The gold shows and the cities they’re located in offer loved ones the chance to experience everything a good vacation should have — tasty food, adventure, recreational activities, and a lot of time in the great outdoors.
If you have a week and a half available for travel, you can take in two shows, enjoy the open road and take in all the sightseeing along the way. If you have all month, you can take in all four shows, which fall along a linear path with plenty of sites, claims, and gold to see!
And who knows? With these fresh prospecting claims to check out, you just might find a hefty nugget that will pay for the new equipment you’ll be drooling over at one of the shows.
Let’s take a closer look at the four GPAA Gold & Treasure Shows that have been lined up for March 2019.
- March 2-3: The Arizona Expo and State Fair in Phoenix, Arizona.
- March 9-10: The Fresno State Fairgrounds in Fresno, California.
- March 23-24: The Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup, Washington.
- March 30-31: Portland Expo Center in Portland, Oregon.
No way you can get out of work in March? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with two additional shows, at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colorado, on April 13-14 and the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 4-5.
First Stop: Arizona
With six GPAA chapters in Arizona, the Phoenix Gold and Treasure Show is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. It’s bound to draw a nice mix of familiar faces for the locals as well as out-of-towners who may become your new friends.
When you roll into Phoenix and have a couple of days either before or after the show to take in the local hot spots, you’ll have plenty of quality prospecting spots to choose from to keep yourself entertained.
Within an hour of the Arizona show is the Little San Domingo claim in the Morristown area. You also have other options, including the Vulture Bait, King, and Yahoo claims, which range approximately 1 to 1½ hours from the venue, according to Kevin Hoagland, GPAA director of development.
The Pima Group claims are only about 1½ hours to the south. They are another great spot to prospect, as is the Polaris claim in Pima County.
“Come in a couple of days early and spend some time on the claims,” Hoagland said.
Hoagland noted the biggest challenge this time of the year in Arizona will be the unpredictable weather. “Bring a recirculator if you have one, just in case,” he said.
If you’re wanting to do more than prospecting, you should check out Sedona, which is 116 miles north of Phoenix. It’s been said Sedona is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the U.S. and with good reason. The red rocks there have been cherished for centuries by the Native Americans, and lately, Sedona has been viewed as a spiritual place by those into New Age pursuits.
The Sedona Heritage Museum will bring you up to speed on the big movie stars, like Elvis Presley, Jimmy Stewart, and Robert De Niro, who filmed here.
If you’re more into other kinds of stars than the Hollywood kind, you can scan the night sky looking for UFOs. Sedona brings in a lot of tourists who are interested in extraterrestrials.
If you’d rather stay in Phoenix for your entertainment while you wait for the date of the show, you’re in luck. There’s a lot to do there, including visiting the Desert Botanical Garden, Camelback Mountain, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Phoenix Zoo.
For an inside look at Phoenix, we asked Preston Wilson of the Wilson Brothers prospecting manufacturing company in Arizona about his favorite spot to prospect in the area. He recommends the Wickenburg and Black Canyon area, about 45 minutes out of Phoenix to the north.
“It has nice chunky gold,” he said.
Prescott, which is about 1½ hours north of Phoenix, is one of Wilson’s all-time favorite places to prospect.
Another spot he suggests checking out is Salt River, which is about a two-hour drive from Phoenix.
Wilson urges people to check out some of these spots with their loved ones and to make the most of the time they have together. At the end of the day, while you might find some gold, the most important treasure is the relationships you form with your loved ones, he said.
While prospecting often has a reputation as a lone-wolf sort of thing, Wilson said that’s an outdated way of looking at it.
“We live in a culture where that lone-wolf mentality doesn’t work,” he said.
Second Stop: California
With 17 GPAA chapters, California is a hotbed of activity when it comes to prospecting. Gold Show Director Sam Servetter said the Central Valley Prospectors, the Fresno chapter, is a dedicated and enthusiastic group of prospectors.
“They were looking to have their own show,” he said.
He said the GPAA wanted to reward their enthusiasm and drive by hosting a show in their city.
“They’re great. They’ve been heavily involved and helpful,” Servetter said.
Hoagland said people traveling to Fresno for the show will have some fantastic prospecting options in the area.
The Bahde, Hoppy, and Gold Basin claims are all nearby, giving GPAA members a lot of territory to cover.
“Combined, they are over 500 acres,” he said.
About an hour or so from downtown Fresno, there are six claims in Mariposa County that combine for a little bit over 300 acres, he added. And there are two new claims that were added in the past year in Mariposa County, Bucky’s Knowhere and Lucky Buck.
“Because of weather, access may be limited,” Hoagland said, but added that if you can get to the new claims, be ready for some great prospecting. “They are good claims. There was some good gold.”
Hoagland offered a tip to those visiting the claim.
“Get out of the stream and work the benches,” he said.
The nearby Red Cloud claims are also a good option. “Four-wheel drive is highly recommended,” Hoagland said.
To get another opinion on the hot spots to prospect around Fresno, we checked in with Dave Varabioff of Goldbay, a prospecting and pay dirt company in California. Varabioff said he will offer gold panning opportunities at his mine, which is in the Mariposa area, about a 90-minute drive from Fresno.
The area around Fresno offers some great, scenic drives, including the Oakhurst to Mariposa drive, and Yosemite is nearby for those who want to maximize their time outdoors, he said.
Varabioff also highly recommends the nearby Mariposa Museum and History Center, which explores the history of the Gold Rush.
“It has a really great gold display,” he said.
Third Stop: Washington
With five GPAA chapters in Washington, as well as a lot of visitors coming in from out of state and from Canada, the Washington show in Puyallup consistently delivers the goods.
“The Washington show is always a good show,” Servetter said. “It’s always well-attended.”
A great family event, vendors set up panning troughs for adults and children so they can learn the techniques pros use to uncover gold. The show will feature thousands of dollars in equipment giveaways, such as sluice boxes, pans, metal detectors, and more. You’ll get an up-close look at the best equipment on the market.
It’s one of the biggest shows in terms of how many vendors show up as well, so if you like to see equipment and create your wish list or make purchases, this is a good show to attend.
In the mood for sightseeing? There’s so much to do in the area. Just 10 miles southeast of Tacoma and 35 miles south of Seattle, you can find things to do in the nearby cities or take in the natural beauty of the state.
Check out Point Defiance Park, which has more than 700 acres of trails, waterfront views, and gardens just waiting for exploration. There is also a zoo and an aquarium on-site too.
If you’re a gearhead, visit LeMay, America’s Car Museum, a 165,000-square-foot facility that boasts 12 rotating exhibits.
There’s also a great naval shipyard outside of Puyallup — the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton.
Fourth Stop: Oregon
With three chapters — the Mid Valley Prospectors and Portland Gold Prospectors Inc., and South-West Washington just across the river in Vancouver — there’s a strong sense of community and fellowship with the members here.
“The Portland show is a pretty special show,” Servetter said, adding the chapters are extremely involved and heavily promote the show.
It’s a large show with 40,000 square feet of space, but there’s never a problem filling all that room.
“It’s always jam packed,” Servetter said.
Looking to stock up on a bunch of new equipment or gear? This is a great show for that because Oregon doesn’t have sales tax. “We call it the buyer’s show,” Servetter said.
Within an hour’s drive, the Direct #1 claim in Skamania, Washington, is a good spot for those looking to score some prospecting action before or after the show.
About 150 miles away from the show is a place called Saddle Mountain State Natural Area in Wenatchee, Washington, which is known for its beautiful opalized wood. Petrified wood is actually Washington’s official “gemstone.”
“It’s a public collecting site,” Hoagland said. “It’s an amazing place.”
This site also is known for its stunning views, hiking opportunities, and horseback riding so there are a lot of chances to enjoy the scenery and make lasting memories with your travel companions.
But be forewarned, this site is weather dependent. Keep in mind, the weather will be unpredictable in this region. Portland hasn’t received its reputation as a rainy city for no reason — it rains often. If you don’t want to be caught in the rain or you’re worried about the accessibility of going to remote areas that might be hard to reach in less-than-ideal weather conditions, you’ll want some backup indoor activities to do.
We’ve done some research for you to give you some ideas in case Mother Nature works against you. If you’re into art galleries or museums, you might want to check out the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon History Museum. If you have an umbrella and are staying in the downtown hotels, you can walk to either of these places.
If you’re a film buff, it might be worth noting that many of the independent movie theaters in Portland serve beer that’s brewed locally and snacks such as pizza.
Those of you who like to read might want to stop by Powell’s City of Books, which has earned the distinction of being the biggest used and new bookstore in the world. It takes up a whole city block and contains around 1 million books. If you have at least eight people in your group, you can schedule a private tour if you’d like to have someone show you around.
For GPAA members living in nearby Canada, this show, as with the Washington show, is a great chance to travel to the U.S. and check out the action at the gold and treasure shows, with several days in between to explore some beautiful scenery and top-notch attractions and activities.
To get a little more insight into a local’s favorite spots to prospect in this region, we asked Mark Peterson, inventor of the Gold Rush Nugget Bucket and avid prospector in Oregon, to share a great spot he likes to visit near the Portland show.
He said he likes the Washougal River, which is just a short drive from Portland. The Molalla River is another solid pick, with lots of great fishing for those who are traveling with friends or family who want to do something other than prospecting.
“I’ll take a fishing pole, a gold panning kit, and a lunch and make a day of it,” Peterson said.
Peterson loves the Portland area and believes the spot offers something for everyone who visits, including all the attractions of a booming city and beautiful scenery as well.
“The food is wonderful. The location is great,” he said.
Load Up the Car and Enjoy Yourself
No matter which of the GPAA Gold & Treasure Shows you attend this spring, you’re sure to have a blast, meet some interesting people, find new tools you’ll wonder how you ever did without, and learn a few more tricks of the trade. You’ll also have the pleasure of discovering claims you may have never visited and, if you’re lucky, have some loved ones along for the ride!
A special thanks to Preston of Wilson Brothers Prospecting, Dave of Goldbay and Mark of Gold Rush Nugget Bucket who have not only helped with the information provided for this article but also with their donations to the Major Prize Raffle in 2019 whose products will help raise tens of thousands of dollars for our local nonprofit chapters to keep prospecting alive in local communities.
CALL OUT: The Gold Shows are running a special promotion for the show with the most presale tickets getting an extra ounce of Felix’s Gourmet Gold in the panning station and giving away a quarter-ounce Felix Nugget at the raffle!