If you're a traveler headed to the Southern Tier of New York State, you likely have dozens of must-do items on your bucket list. Exploring the scenic Enchanted Mountains, visiting quaint villages and hiking in beautiful Allegany State Park are all fun, can't-miss activities. But, travelers should also consider adding gold panning to the list: Panning for gold in the Southern Tier is a very popular activity that's especially enjoyable if you have young children. Look for glacial drift gold nuggets and small gold flakes, the result of receding glaciers from 10,000 years ago; just remember not to take any of it home with you, because it's considered to be state property, no matter where you find it.

Where to Go, What to Bring

The Southern Tier is great for gold panning because of its rural areas and riverbeds (both the Delaware River and the Susquehanna River flow through this part of the state), which tend to contain tons of treasures just waiting to be found. Look for glacial gold in streams around the Catskill Mountains, along riverbeds and in small villages like Elmira, Jamestown, Hornell and Olean. Plan to road trip along the Southern Tier Expressway and either camp or stay at B&B's along the way. This way, you can stop and do some gold panning wherever you feel like it; this is also a great way to get to know the region a bit better. And what to carry on your gold panning journey? In addition to a metal detector, plan to have rain boots, a sniffer bottle, a strainer and a mining pan. Before you start exploring, just make sure to obtain permission if you'll be traipsing across private land. Finally, keep in mind that canoeing or kayaking is another excellent way to explore out-of-the-way places that may have treasures. Book a tour with a reputable local company like New York Southern Tier Kayak Tours, or rent your own boat for a private gold-panning adventure.

New York Laws and Regulations

For travelers who plan to do some gold panning during their time in the Southern Tier, there's one all-important thing to know: The state of New York technically owns any and all gold and silver found within the state limits. Even claim holders and landowners are not entitled to keep any silver or gold they find on their property. So, if you do go gold panning, just make sure to put back anything that you find.