Welcome to PUX..
We're into it.
We are fortunate that we live in the foothills of some beautiful as well as gold producing mountains.
The Forest Service CG we do most of our camping at sits just above Lynx Lake and Lynx Creek.
The Lynx Creek drainage area near Prescott, Az is the motherload of Arizona gold country. 108,000 ounces of documented placer has come out of this creek since gold was first discovered here in 1863. The creek itself is a great place to get started with gold prospecting. Several miles of creek have been set aside by the Forest Service as a withdraw area that is closed to mineral claims and open to recreational prospecting. Hand tools and pans are allowed. Mechanical equipment such as dredges, highbankers, spiral panners and sluice boxes are banned.
Gold panning for us is a family adventure that both my DW and DD really do enjoy. I do most of the digging (dirty work) and they work the pans. We don't expect to strike it rich but we almost always find some color. (gold)
We have been talking about going to a gold camp in Northern California, looks like it would be great fun. Alaska even better but thats pretty far.
Here is a link to a great site with a ton of info. http://arizonagoldprospectors.com/index.html
There is an old saying. "Gold is where you find it" I'd suggest looking where it has been found before.
Have fun and good luck.