Gold Panning in Kootenai Country

The Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area does have certain rules for those who wish to take part in the fun and traditions of panning in this beautiful setting:

  • All material must be processed within the Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area and we ask that you limit yourself to one or two 5-gallon buckets at a time.
  • Only hand tools and pans are allowed for prospecting. No motorized or mechanized mining equipment is allowed.
  • Please "Pack it In/Pack it Out".
  • There is a 14-day camping limit.
  • No discharging of firearms within the Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area boundaries.

    Between 10,000 and 130,000 years ago, massive glaciers carved away the faces of the cabinet mountain range, forming the jagged peaks that surround Kootenai Country Montana. As these ice floes gouged and scoured the rocks, they became loaded with all of the substrate which was further washed away by melting ice. Eventually streams and rivers formed, flushing this material in to what are known as placer deposits. Libby Creek became the final depository of all of these aeons of the Cabinet Mountains shedding their skin.      
    To get to the Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area, take US Highway 2 and travel approximately 13-miles south of Libby on Highway 2. Libby Creek road will be on your right. The Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area is an additional 10-miles up Libby Creek Road National Forest #231. Libby Creek Road is graveled but well maintained. While you are traveling on these back roads, take the time to drink in the beauty surrounding you and travel cautiously.
    Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area gives locals and visitors alike an opportunity to sift through the remnants of this glacial till.

The allure of a glint of golden fire in the pan is enough to quicken the pace of anyone who has panning in their blood. Early gold miners blazed this trail as early as 1864, and Libby was even named for the daughter of a miner in these early years of prospecting! Many small mining camps came and went through the decades until when in 1987 the patented claims, which constitute the present gold panning area, were acquired through a land exchange. The gold panning area was established for the public in 1988. Now you can freely plunge your hands in the cool waters of Libby creek at a chance for a flake or a nugget and share in the rich history of those that made their wages there before you.    
    There are no developed parking lots or camping facilities at the Gold Panning Area, however a men's and a women's restroom are located in the main panning area. Camping here is primitive with dispersed sites. If you are planning on a longer visit to the area (or just don't feel like roughing it), Howard Lake Campground is located one mile south and offers swimming, fishing, hiking, a water well, RV pull sites, and toilets. This is a developed fee campground, and the gates are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information about Kootenai Country Montana visit Gold Panning Info.