Every year, my Dad comes out for a month-long visit. And true to form, every year he has a new hobby. Last year it was fly fishing, the year before that it was Jeeping -- this year, it's panning for gold! This weekend everyone (including Dad's dog Rocko) loaded up into the Jeep with his gold pans, rock hammers, and the metal detector, then ventured out to the Henry Mountains to hit the mother lode.
The Henry Mountains are known in Utah for their gold deposits. The Henrys are an igneous lacolith -- a volcano that never quite burst through the surface. Gold-bearing solutions deposited gold into rock deposits, but since gold is so tough, it sticks around after the rest of the rock erodes. If the gold makes its way into a stream, you can pan for it.
We drove in towards the Henrys from the east on the Bull Creek Pass Byway. It's about 21 miles south of Hanksville along SR 95. After a quick stop at Little Egypt (AKA mini Goblin Valley,) we drove on 7.5 miles towards the public panning area in Crescent Creek. Most of the placer gold in Utah is very fine-grained flour gold so it's pretty tough to find, but Dad managed to find a tiny nugget. I putzed around with the metal detector, but only found rusty bullet cases and old barbed wire.