Generally, there are more than just potatoes buried in Idaho’s soil; the ground has managed to keep most things a secret for centuries. The ground has kept treasure hunters guessing for a decade, but this hasn’t stopped us from searching for hidden treasures. And unlike some states, Idaho is considered metal detecting friendly; after all, the region and terms of regulations favor treasure hunters.
The gold rush movement in Idaho dates back over a century ago; therefore, most treasure hunters are always looking for gold, so if you want to know what else this beautiful state has for the treasure hunter.
As the eleventh largest US state by land, Idaho has more than enough space for you to explore. And with gold found all over this state, many gold miners migrated to Idaho, creating this state. But over the last few decades, most of the gold mines have shut down; however, this doesn’t mean you can’t find some hidden treasure in this state.
So here are some of the best places in Idaho where you can find treasure:
1. McCammon, Idaho
Perhaps the most sought-after treasure in this state’s history is the Portneuf Gold, supposedly buried in McCammon, Idaho. The story of this gold goes back to 1865, right before the region was a territory or state when lawlessness was an issue. However, the biggest criminal of that era was Big Dave Updyke, the first sheriff of Ada County.
Sherrif Dave was sworn in under rigged elections, but in a real sense, he was a known thug who took part in the Portneuf Stage. Supposedly, some gold bars worth $80,000 passed through Idaho to Salt Lake City. The sheriff and his accomplices managed to steal the gold bar and get away with them.
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His accomplices were caught and hanged, but by the time they caught up with the sheriff, the gold was nowhere to be seen. He had managed to turn himself into a victim of his robbery. But folks believe the loot is buried in this county. The locals have also been looking for them for years. (source)
Map to McCammon, Idaho – Google Map Image link
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2. Priest Lake, Bonner County
Besides being home to many gold mines, Bonner County is known as the land of vibrant communities, forests, mountains, and magnificent lakes. (source)
There are several treasure tales, including the story of a prospector who buried his gold and mules after they passed away.
The mule had eaten some poisonous weeds and could not haul its weight; therefore, he buried some of the gold along the shores of Priest Lake. But upon his return, he didn’t find the gold. Up to date, the locals believe that it has never been found, forcing some locals to search for it for years.
Map to Priest Lake, Bonner County – Google Map Image Link
3. Cassia County
The 1880s was a violent era in the history of this state which resulted in the murder of several folks near Deep Creek. The violence was due to the feud between cattlemen and sheepherders, commonly referred to as the Sheep Wars or the Range Wars.
According to the local legend, there are stories of herders hiding their valuables to protect them from their rivals. Plus, most of these treasures may have been hiding at Deep Creek. Some of the things are valued at about $20,000. Therefore, why don’t you try exploring this hidden gem in Idaho?
Map to Cassia County – Google Map Image – Link
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4. Robbers Gulch
Near the Salmon River and the White Bird is a unique region locally known as Robbers Gulch. I know its name does seem unusual, but there is a legend behind it. Over a century ago, John Ruggles was believed to have buried gold worth $50,000 that has never been found.
John and his companion were caught, revealing that they had upheld a stage carrying gold and hid it among the rocks at the present-day Robber Gulch. Unfortunately, they were killed before they could tell the whereabouts of the loot. And over the last few years, treasure hunters have been exploring the region, hoping to find this loot, to no avail. (source)
Map to Robbers Gulch – Google Map Image –Link
5. Hayden Lake, Jack Breen’s Lost Gold Mine Claim
In 1889, Jack Breen, a poor prospector, found some gold near Coeur D’ Alene. And since he didn’t have enough cash to work on his claim, he went to Coeur D’ Alene, where he met Jack Osier and N.R. Palmeter and partnered with them.
After meeting his future partners, he visited the local saloon. He started bragging about his claim, resulting in many people buying him alcohol in the hopes that he would tell them the exact location of his claim. When his partners found out, they had him arrested for safety, but the jail burned down in the morning, and he was killed.
Breen never revealed the exact position of the claim, and the only thing he told them was that it was near Hayden Lake. Therefore, if you’re in search of gold, then you should try your hunt around this region. (source)
Map to Hayden Lake – Google Map Image – link
6. Gold Bullion At the Bottom of Treasure Rock
According to legend, a gold bullion shipment worth over $200,000 was stolen in 1878 on a stagecoach heading to the American Military camp. The shipment was payment for the soldiers at the military camp, and since the strongbox was quite heavy, the outlaws dragged it using their horses.
As soon as the shipment was stolen, a posse was created. It followed the tracks left by the strongbox to the City of Rocks. One of the outlaws was killed while the other was arrested, but they never found the gold. The thieves didn’t say where they hid the shipment but believed they buried it at the bottom of Treasure Rock. (source)
The gold is still waiting for a lucky treasure hunter to find it.
Map to Treasure Rock – Google Map Image – link
7. De Lamar, Idaho
De Lamar is a famous ghost town situated at about 5,463 ft., about 6 miles from Silver City. The ghost town was created around the De Lamar mines that were developed in 1888, and within no time, it expanded, but after 1890, the population started declining.
It is currently among the no-metal detecting zones on the National Register of Historic Sites. But it is situated on BLM land; therefore, metal detecting is allowed; unfortunately, you can’t take them home with you. Consequently, you should report your findings and search away from all the historical buildings. (source)
Map to De Lamar, Idaho – Google Map Image – link
8. Wallace, Idaho
For history lovers, this unique mining town is worth visiting because it is referred to as the “Center of the Universe.” Wallace has several recreation trails and mining museums, plus the fact that it’s a popular tourist destination is a bonus. And one of the most popular trails is the Pulaski Tunnel Trail. (source)
This tunnel trail commemorated the heroism and tragedy of 1910 when fire swept all over the town, and a local ranger managed to save 38 men by guiding them to safety. Generally, this Tunnel Trail receives a lot of traffic every year, so you are bound to get some metals using your metal detectors. And if your main goal is finding gold, then you have come to the right place.
Map to Wallace, Idaho – Google Map Image – link
9. Burgdorf, Idaho
Initially a sacred place for the American Indians, Burgdorf is an ancient mining town whose population multiplied in the 1870s, but by 1925, the site had a population of about 13. Burgdorf was declared a Historic district in 1972 by the National Register of Historic Places, which means that metal detecting and treasure hunting aren’t permitted. (source)
But you can hunt treasure around the region’s trails, parking lots, and campgrounds. After all, Burgdorf does receive huge traffic, so you’re bound to get some treasure.
Map to Burgdorf, Idaho – Google Map Image link
10. Vienna, Sawtooth City
When treasure hunting, even an abandoned mine like this Silver Mine, can be a great place to start your favorite hobby. After all, this region has experienced defeats, triumphs, and hardships like most mining districts. The historic Mill and mine sites were patented, but they are currently private land. (source)
The city thrived in its era, but the Old Vienna town is abandoned, and so far, nobody has ever figured out the cause of the problem. Therefore, if you’re up for it, you can try and solve the mystery of why it’s abandoned using your treasure hunting skills.
Map to Vienna, Sawtooth City – Google Map Link
11. Ann Morrison Park
Ann Morrison Park is 153 acres park situated along River Boise in Idaho. This park includes an outdoor gym, horseshoe pits, a disc golf course, and bocce courts; therefore, it is popular among treasure hunters and metal detectors. Plus, you have a high likelihood of getting some treasure that may have been washed to the shores of River Boise. (source)
Map to Ann Morrison Park – Google Map Link
12. Pend Oreille Lake, Sand Point
Sand Point, Idaho, is the furthest part of Idaho that can be accessed without crossing to Canada. At Sand Point, you will find one of this state’s deepest and biggest Lakes with a 111-mile-long shoreline that’s quite popular among treasure hunters.
A considerable percentage of the shoreline is not populated, which means that you have more than enough area to hunt for some hidden treasures. Some folks have found some lost jewelry all over this lake’s shorelines. (source)
Map to Pend Oreille Lake – Google Map Link
13. Redfish Lake, Idaho
The Redfish Lake is the biggest in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area with water sports, camping, and hiking. And since it is situated in the Sawtooth National Forest, you will never have to worry about rules for hunting treasures. (source)
Map to Redfish Lake, Idaho – google map image link
14. Lake Cascade, Idaho
Situated at the Boise National Forests, Lake Cascade is the fourth biggest reservoir in Idaho, occupying an area of about 47 sq. miles. Fortunately, the park may be open to treasure hunts and metal detecting, but you must get permission from Boise National Park rangers. (source)
Map to Lake Cascade, Idaho – Google Map Image link
15. Payette Lake, McCall, Idaho
Another excellent destination for treasure hunters that I have always loved visiting is Payette Lake in McCall. It may be a bit far, but it is considered the jewel of north Idaho. After all, gold was discovered in this region in 1862; this region became quite popular with tourists visiting the place. Fortunately, this region does permit treasure hunting; therefore, it should be on your bucket list. (source)
Map to Payette Lake, McCall, Idaho – Google Map Image Link
Hunting treasure requires some geographic, historical knowledge, and detecting skills. In fact, with the right skills, you can hunt treasure anywhere on the planet, including Idaho; after all, we use the same technique.
Here is some help to get started searching for treasure in Idaho. – link
Is It Legal to Metal Detect in Idaho?
Generally, treasure hunting isn’t allowed in all the national monuments or parks in the country. But if the land is on BLM lands, you can search for treasure, but make sure you don’t remove any artifacts. Instead, you should report it to the field officer, but most importantly, stay away from the archeological and cultural sites.
Metal Detecting Tip: ALWAYS check with the State park before metal detecting. Here’s a shortcut link the the Idaho Parks and Recreation Website.
If you want to explore private land, you should always get permission from the owner; remember, anything you find on private land belongs to the property owner. Some of the critical things you have to remember when metal detecting include:
- Archaeological remains found on federal land are usually protected by the federal government; therefore, if you find such remains, you should not disturb them any further and make sure you report it to the officer in charge.
- Recreational usage of metal detectors and collecting minerals and rocks are allowed in the National forests.
- If there is no law against it, you can use your metal detector in the picnic region and developed campground.
Metal Detecting Tip: BLM land can be a great place to wander around looking for treasure. Don’t destroy anything, treasure can be exciting to record with pictures and document. Read more about BLM land in this article 👉 Can I Metal Detect on BLM Land
The answer to this question will depend on what you discover or where you’re exploring. If you’re metal detecting on private land, you should know that anything you find belongs to the property owner. If you find coins on public land, you can keep them, but any artifact should be left undisturbed.
On the other hand, discovering gold will subject you to some mining laws. Other than that, everything else you find in Idaho, you can keep.
Here are some of the most famous treasures found by metal detectorists across Idaho in the news today.
- Metal detectorist Brandon Neice discovers a silver coin in the Southwestern parts of Idaho. (source)
- A metal detector finds a lost wedding ring five years later. (source)
- Michael Gozia reunited the class ring with its owner almost five decades later. (source)
Knowing that there is a treasure in Idaho and learning more about the many stories of folks finding relics and artifacts can help motivate you. So here are some Idaho treasure stories.
Legend has it that gold bullion bound for an American military base was stolen at Kelton stage in 1878 and buried at the base of the Treasure Rock. The gold has never been found since one of the thieves was killed. The other didn’t disclose the exact location of their loot. (source)
The first sheriff of Ada County was a known crook who stole from people and even murdered some folks. The sheriff is believed to have stolen the gold transported to Salt lake city from Montana via stagecoach and hid it. (source)
Jack Breen discovered gold in a place near Coeur d’ Alene, and since he was broke, he looked for partners. But before he could take them to the gold mine, he dies in prison after his partners had him arrested because of bragging about his gold claims. (source)
Here is a must-read book on the treasures of Idaho.
This book features a customizable personal journal and treasure legends of Idaho. It features stories of some folks who became wealthy after discovering gold. (source)
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David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.
- KTVB staff, Crooked first Ada Sheriff May have buried millions of dollars in gold, https://www.ktvb.com/article/news/local/crooked-first-ada-sheriff-may-have-buried-millions-of-dollars-in-gold/277-416794501/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia contributor, Bonner County, Idaho, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonner_County,_Idaho/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Thomas Correa, The American Cowboy Chronicles Old West Myths & Legends: The Honest Truth, https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=4DDEDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT311&dq=legend+of+Robbers+Gulch&hl=sw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiCuvOavPj4AhXthv0HHUvvB4gQ6AF6BAgDEAI#v=onepage&q=legend%20of%20Robbers%20Gulch&f=false/ accessed July 14, 2022
- YouTube Contributor, Lost Treasure in Lost Mine, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVh8nAD-sFw/ accessed July 14, 2022
- NPS staff, Treasure Rock, https://www.nps.gov/places/treasure-rock.htm/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia Contributor, De Lamar, Idaho, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Lamar,_Idaho/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia contributor, Wallace, Idaho, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace,_Idaho/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia Contributor, Burgdorf, Idaho, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgdorf,_Idaho/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Sawtooth National Forest, Proposed Recreation Area General Management, https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=JZ82AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA25&dq=Vienna,+Sawtooth+National+Forest&hl=sw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjmxuLT2vj4AhUHX_EDHVVeBzMQ6AF6BAgCEAI#v=onepage&q=Vienna%2C%20Sawtooth%20National%20Forest&f=false/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia Contributors, Ann Morrison Park, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Morrison_Park/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia Contributor, Lake Pend Oreille Lake, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Pend_Oreille/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia Contributor, Redfish Lake, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redfish_Lake/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia Contributor, Lake Cascade, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Cascade/ accessed July 14, 2022
- Wikipedia Contributor, Payette Lake, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payette_Lake#History/accessed July 14, 2022