Rocks & Minerals

Choose from the following to find a site: A girl holds a find in front of a trail sign.


The bedrock of the White Mountains is mostly composed of igneous and metamorphic rocks, with numerous intrusions and contact zones between different rock types. From the Conway granite of the White Mountain batholith to the thick deposits of the Moat Mountain volcanic rocks, all overlain by glacial tills, this geology has resulted in diverse but limited mineral deposits in various locations across the Forest.

Rockhounding Areas

Gold Panning

Gold panning on the White Mountain National Forest is a recreational activity that occurs mainly on the Pemigewasset Ranger District on the west side of the White Mountain National Forest. Gold is associated with a wide variety of rock types (granitic and volcanic rocks in particular) and sediment types (stream gravels and stratified glacial material). There is a history of gold recovery in the Ammonoosuc River basin, in particular the Wild Ammonoosuc River and Tunnel Brook.

Gold Panning Permit Info

A man sits in a river panning for gold.

A man pans for gold along the Ammonoosuc River.

A free permit is required for gold panning.

  • Permits are valid for 1 calendar year.
  • Make sure to read and comply with the conditions stated on the permit.
  • Permits are available by contacting the Saco Ranger Station

Rockhounding and Gold Panning Area Guides