The 2016 World Gold Panning Championships

El Dorado County Fairgrounds is the center of the 2016 World Gold Panning competition. It is being transformed into a continuation of the gold rush that started in 1848 when James Marshall discovered gold in the tailraces of his lumber mill, just a few miles away in Coloma, along the South Fork of the American River. This discovery lead to the world migration of individuals to California to seek their fortunes. Now the world returns again!

Competitors will be panning native sand and gravel to find placer gold in record time! It’s a gold panners dream to win a GOLD, SILVER or BRONZE medal in a World Championship Competition.

Panners from over 20 countries will be competing in categories that include: Juniors, Men, Women, Veterans, Classical Pan, 2-Person Team, 3-Person Team, 5-Person Team and The National Team.

TIME PLUS ACCURACY: 30 competitors at a time will each have a bucket with about 22 to 44 pounds of gravel that has been salted with 5-12 tiny pieces of gold. Competitors will not know the amount of gold in each heat. Each persons time will be recorded and a 3-minute penalty added for each piece missed.

The competitors in each heat with the best time will keep advancing through quarter finals and semi finals until day 5 (Sunday) where the top 30 in each category will compete in the finals to determine the best in the world.

Daily Competition Schedule Details:

Click here for the full daily competition schedule with detail times and competitors assigned to each heat.

Competition Schedule Summary:

Sunday, May 15– Online Registration Opens

Sunday, September 11 – Competition Registration Office is Open

Monday, September 12 – Competition Registration Office is Open

Tuesday, September 13 – Nations Parade in Downtown Placerville, Opening Ceremonies

Wednesday, September 14 – Competition Begins with Qualifying Rounds

Thursday, September 15 – Qualifying Rounds Continue

Friday, September 16 – Qualifying Rounds Continue

Saturday, September 17 – Quarter and Semifinal Heats

Sunday, September 18 – Finals, Awards & Closing Ceremonies


Lodging in El Dorado County is plentiful and ranges from Bed and Breakfasts, historic hotels, motels, beautiful Inns, vacation rentals, and much more. There are over 600 comfortable rooms within 20 miles of the Championships. For a list of local hotels please click here.


Camping is available at the competition site. The El Dorado County Fairgrounds will take camping and RV reservations directly via email. They will have water and electricity hookups available for RVs and trailers. Tents are $10 a night, RVs are $30 a night. RV dumps are available for an additional fee. Please email the El Dorado County Fairgrounds to make your reservation. You will need the vehicle size, length of stay and phone number to make your reservation.