If you want to make some passive income, these days people consider things like:

  • renting out an extra room
  • selling clothes to second-hand retailers
  • investing in the stock market

But another method seems to be gaining in popularity: collecting gold.

Just recently, MoneyWeek advised that investing in gold can help bolster finances against a variable stock market. Turns out, "Record numbers of investors backed gold and precious metals in 2023," according to the article.

While it may not lead to a ton of money, Montana is called the "Treasure State" for a reason. Some mining spots are as secret as hunting locations or huckleberry patches, but if you're looking for some fun with a bit of payoff (or not), try these spots.

Virginia City, & Nevada City, Montana

For the beginning miner, The River of Gold Mining exhibit in Alder Gulch can be a fun way to learn about Montana's history. It's estimated that nearly 2.5 Billion dollars have been mined in the Alder Gulch area according to the Montana Heritage Commission.

Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area

Located inside the Kootenai National Forest, the public use area is south of Libby, Montana, and is available for panning and other activities like hiking and camping. What's interesting about this spot is that LIbbyMT.com says the gold deposits are there because of "alpine glaciation" when "glaciers left deposits" in the valley.

Southwest Montana

For a guided experience, try signing up for one of the Gold Panning Adventures through Visit Southwest Montana. You'll hear from a geologist and learn a lot but "don't count on getting rich" they say.

History Lesson: Rich People Living in Montana Isn't Anything New

Join a Prospecting Club

Many prospecting sites have been claimed, but if you're a member of a prospecting club you will often have access to those sites. Learn more about the Northwest Montana Gold Prospectors or The Headwaters Chapter of the GPAA Gold Prospecting Club.

Know Before You Go

There are opportunities for recreational prospecting in Montana's national forests but you'll want to familiarize yourself with the requirements for permits, and whether there are any restrictions or areas that are off-limits. This guide from the United States Department of Agriculture is a good place to start.

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