Where to find Buried Treasure in the USA

As the popularity of metal detecting for buried treasure grows everywhere around the world, so it is that more and more people are buying up metal detectors and trying to figure out where to go to find the most unique, interesting, and – of course – valuable treasures on earth.

And so, if you are one of these treasure-seeking folk, and you live in, for example, the USA, you may feel to you like metal detector enthusiasts in other parts of the world are having more luck, as many of the biggest hoards are found in places like the UK.

lee rossiter tudor ring

While Europeans treasure hunters can and do find historical relics or and buried treasures in all sorts of places, so too do people living on the ancient continent of Asia unearth coins which date back thousands of years.

Again, with cultures that stretch back to dynasties of old, dating back thousands of years, it would seem inevitable that there is much buried there.

Meanwhile, across the African continent, it’s possible to find amazing treasures and relics from the beginning of civilization.  Every now and then, a new treasure is unearthed, and sometimes this even reaches the major news outlets…

Table of Contents:

  • Treasure hunting in the United States

Best Places to Go Treasure Hunting

  • Beaches
  • Scuba diving for treasure in the ocean
  • Old homes and schoolhouses
  • Private property
  • Gold claims

Famous Hidden Treasure Locations in The USA

  • Kanab, Utah (Montezuma’s Gold)
  • Crystal Coast, N.C. (Blackbeard’s Treasure)
  • Coastal Louisiana (Jean Lafitte’s Treasure)
  • Superstition Mountains, Mesa, Arizona (Lost Dutchman)
  • Where to find gold and jewels in the USA

Ok, let’s dig into this!

Treasure Hunting in the United States

While some may seem that you’re finding nothing but mufflers and hubcaps here in the US, that’s not the truth of the matter when it comes to US treasure hunting.  Not by a long shot!

buried treasure gun

As it happens, there have been many awesome finds in the US!

Not only that you could find artifacts from dating back to the American Revolution or Civil War, but also, Viking treasures dating back to before Columbus landed here might be uncovered.

Here’s a video showing a couple in Northern California’s major find – many containers filled to the brim with gold coins from a past age, worth millions.

Also, there are been a number of large gold nuggets found, that any treasure hunter would die to get their hands on.

Since America has been known in the past as a land filled with gold, this isn’t entirely shocking, since “gold fever” has spurred many a prospector in olden days to lay claim to certain areas where gold was known to be found in mass quantities.

There are many mysteries pertaining to gold, coins, and various other curious treasures in North America, from authentic pirate’s stashes to gold miners whose buried treasure was never discovered.

metal detector find

According to reports from the US, there are still great things under our feet to be found. You only need to know where to search.

And that is what we’re here to talk about!  That is to say, a guide to searching for buried treasure in the United States, as well as offering some general tips as well.

Let’s start with probably the most popular and in some ways obvious place to visit with your metal detector, if you are in the States and want to get started with treasure hunting.

Best Places To Go Treasure Hunting


beach treasure hunting

The ocean is enormous and holds many secrets.

Hence, many of the splendid finds in the United States have been discovered washed up on beaches, which is really no big surprise to many seasoned treasure hunters, as beaches are basically the usual haunt of many a relic seeker.

Speaking of relics, besides lost jewelry or coins, you may find some really old relics dumped into the water from the boats that crashed somewhere close to the shoreline from a long time ago, which have slowly made their way into the sandy shores of the US.

With thousands of miles of beach to cover, and the constantly churning sea, this brings new hope daily to treasure hunters who are seeking treasure along the shores.

Here is one such person – a popular Youtuber named Relic Recoverist.  Check out her channel, get some inspiration for scouring beaches for treasure, and get some metal detecting tips while you’re at it.

Another great example of an awesome beach find is this – one of the oldest coins ever found in the U.S.A. was found on a beach.  It was a coin from Parthia, dating back to around 120-80 BC.

parthian tetradrachm cp2214

Now, this coin is extremely old, and no one knows exactly how it got to a beach 12 miles west of Portland Oregon.  Truly amazing!

Scuba Diving For Treasure In The Ocean

Back in the distant past, it wasn’t uncommon that a ship sailing the high seas breaks apart in a storm and sinks to the bottom of the sea, taking everything on board down with it.

ship anne anchor
We almost don’t have to mention that many of those ships were carrying gold, but it’s true – most ships sailing the seas from one continent to another were carrying valuables, and there were a lot of ships back going back and forth between continents at this time, numbering in the thousands.

This was, of course, before planes, so just imagine the number of vessels making their way to and fro.  Many of them were warships, like these.

san jose wreckage

Of course, warships probably aren’t the ships you want to be looking for.  No, instead you want to be searching for mercantile ships, or the pirate ships that went after these ships.

This would require some research as figuring out their trade routes from hundreds of years ago perhaps isn’t easy, but it could be doable with some effort.

This idea of sunken pirate ships and underwater treasure is, of course, the plot of the movie Goonies…

Goonies aside, sunken treasure is an actual phenomenon.  Precisely this very thing happened to a Spanish galleon, Santa Margarita. It sailed off the coast of Florida in 1622.

It carried the treasure Spain needed to keep its place as a world power. There were over 10000 pounds of silver and 560 pounds of gold. But strong storms hit the fleet while it was still in the New World.

The Santa Margarita and the fleet of five other ships broke apart and sunk off the Marquesas Keys in the Florida Straits.

santa margarita shipwreck
That’s one of the examples of how it may happen (and it happens) that even these days, adventurous people discover some amazing, valuable things underwater.

In 2008, almost 400 years after the crush of Santa Margarita, a treasure diver named Mike DeMar found something extraordinary – a solid gold chalice that turned out to be worth 1 million dollars.

So, don’t limit your detecting only to dry land. Your big find may be waiting to be discovered underwater.

Of course, the problem with underwater treasure is obvious – it’s underwater.  Maybe deep down, and completely inaccessible.  But many people don’t let that stop them.  They just strap on their scuba gear and down they go, if the diving in that area seems agreeable depth and weather-wise.

The other logical point to raise here is that you aren’t going to be diving in the middle of the ocean, so if you do plan on scuba hunting for treasure, you best figure out whereabouts you can do it that is near land, and not so far out as to be too deep to dive.

So, obviously if you are a scuba diver, it will make hunting for sunken treasure that much easier.  The fact that treasure is in deeper waters is most certainly a barrier to entry, but that just makes it more exciting.

Plus, consider the fact that, once people from around the world decided to come to the “New World”, they came in droves, and they brought a lot of valuable stuff.  Statistics alone (number of ships over so many years) make underwater treasure hunting that much more of an attraction.

Old Homes and Schools

Old homes and schoolhouses are also an excellent choice for detectorists. Many such locations in the United States have been around since the 1800s.

100 year old school house swan creekSome of these old buildings still stand, and some get torn down and the evidence that they were there is gone.

This is where a treasure hunter once again needs to be resourceful, in that you can find records of the locations of certain old buildings, and visit those locations if they are accessible.

If an old schoolhouse still stands, and the location is not on private property, the grassy areas surrounding them can be a source of some fantastic finds.

The idea here is that anywhere where people used to live, means that there’s always a chance there is something buried there.

Like they do today, people like to store their valuables in little hidden areas that eventually are forgotten, and, so long as you aren’t on someone else’s property, this is somewhere you should be looking.

Private Property

private property sign

If you’re thinking of metal detecting on private property, always ask for permission.

Some of the best finds can come from private property, but legally, you aren’t even allowed to be on that property without some sort of approval to be there, and, to be honest, many people who do own private properties are not going to be agreeable to you coming there to dig for treasure.

Many of these old properties have been with a family for a long time, passed down from generation to generation. The finds there can date back to colonial times, or even to the 1600s, on rare occasions.

It’s not uncommon that someone’s old backyard lies upon on the field where some historical battle was fought.

Ask nicely for permission, and you just may have luck.  Under the right circumstances, the property owner may even want someone to look around for valuables, as they may not have the time.

Now we will move on to a somewhat related topic, as it involves property, and maybe none too easy to access.

Gold Claims

gold claim

Before you say “Gold claim? I’m there!”, you really must have permission to hunt on a gold claim. If you don’t have it, and a gold claim is not yours, that would make you a claim jumper.  And in the old days, these people were often met with the barrel of a gun under their nose.

This kind of metal detecting is the most potentially dangerous if you refuse to play by the legal rules. If, by some circumstance, you are granted access to an old claim, whether you find gold or not depends a lot on luck. You may spend a lot on equipment and never find anything, or you can hit it your first day out.

Gold claims often brings to mind images of hard soil, steep rocky hills, and a hot beating sun. Many give this adventure up after their first day out, due simply to how hard it is to dig there.  However, it’s still possible to find gold nuggets, some little, some big.

With a bit of research and a little luck, you may discover the find of a lifetime.

Besides these general suggestions on where you can go for metal detecting, there are also some more specific locations in the United States believed to hide a treasure.

You may get some inspiration on where to go for your next metal detecting trip.

Famous Hidden Treasures in the USA

Kanab, Utah (Montezuma’s Gold)

There is a myth that says that Utah holds a long lost treasure of the Aztecs, known as Montezuma’s gold. It’s believed to be worth $3 billion. Many spent years searching for it.

montezumas treasureThe most famous of these searchers was Freddie Crystal. In the 1920s, he found tunnels where it was believed that the treasure was temporarily hidden.

But what followed was mysterious – Crystal and his maps suddenly disappeared.

In 1998, new research was launched after the Aztec symbol was found near Three Lakes pond. But diving and radar detection didn’t manage to produce any evidence yet.

If you seek an adventure, this treasure is yet to be found. But be careful, as it’s associated with bad luck and mysterious disappearances.

Here are two interesting videos on this topic.

As you can see, the treasure of Montezuma draws in all kinds.  The overall message we wish to impart when it comes to gold claims is to be cautious, and try not to catch “gold fever”.

Crystal Coast, N.C. (Blackbeard’s Treasure)

crystal coast nc beaches

Have you heard about a man named Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard?

He was one of history’s most famous pirates and spent a lot of time off the coast of North Carolina. Finally, his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, ran ashore near Beaufort, North Carolina.

Here’s a little taste of what life on such a ship may have been like (and this is glamorizing it quite a bit!)…

Although its contents are now stored at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, a legend says there was also a treasure, which is lost. If the legend is true, it is yet to be found.

There are rumors he may have buried his wealth in some of these locations: “Holiday’s Island” in the Chowan River, “Teach’s Oak” near Oriental, “The Old Brick House” near Elizabeth City, and the southern end of Ocracoke Island.

Book your trip and bring your metal detector with you.

Speaking of pirates, let’s take a visit to…

Coastal Louisiana (Jean Lafitte’s Treasure)

Jean Lafitte baratarians

A legend from Louisiana says another famous pirate, Jean Lafitte, buried his treasures somewhere in the bayou.

The pirate used to hide out near Lake Charles and along the coast, with his band of criminals. People from Louisiana believe they have buried a stash of gold somewhere in the Contraband Bayou.

Another legend says the treasure is buried on Jefferson Island, under giant trees, where now there are houses and gardens built.

Here’s a video that takes a closer look at the historical character Jean Lafitte.

Now, let’s head over to scenic Arizona for our next promising location…

Superstition Mountains, Mesa, Arizona (Lost Dutchman)

lost dutchman's gold mine

The renowned “Lost Dutchman,” whose real name was Jacob Waltz, discovered a rich gold mine in the 1800s.

Unfortunately, he didn’t pass the information about its exact location to anyone before he died. Many have searched for this trove ever since.

They often stumbled upon clues but never the mine itself.

Nowadays, it’s a popular place for visitors, who can camp, hike or horseback ride into the Superstition Wilderness Area.

The Superstition Mountain Museum holds many of the clues to the mine and various maps.

Legends live forever, so treasure hunters are still searching for this lost treasure.

Lastly, we offer you a quick guide on looking for gold in the USA, because you know what they say – there’s gold in them thar hills!

Where to Find Gold (and jewels) In the USA

Gold is likely to be found from Northern Alaska down to the lower Southwestern deserts of Nevada, California, Arizona, and the Mexican border.

arizona treasure hunting
Besides rivers and residual deposits, gold nuggets are also found in the tailing piles of previous mining operations.

Desert regions in the Southwest are prime targets for today’s electronic gold prospectors because that was where the Gold Rush mainly took place in the past.

Nowadays, with a metal detector, it is easy to locate gold in different shapes that were overlooked in the past.

Other excellent locations for profitable gold nugget detecting can be those along the Pacific Coast. That’s where many beach treasures have been discovered.

These treasures were washed from cliffs into the ocean by the waves – that could be the explanation of this phenomenon.

You should keep in mind that you can hunt for gold nugget only in gold-bearing regions. It’s not likely to find gold where it has never been found.

Here is an excellent video talking about where and how to find gold in the USA.


Think about all of the above and do the proper research of the area before you decide to buy a metal detector and go off hunting for treasure.

Obviously, there are still many opportunities for metal-detecting enthusiasts, hobbyists, and professionals in the United States, but, as with all worthwhile endeavors, a bit of strategy is needed.

What you need first is a metal detector (one that works well), as well as good research on the region’s geographical location and history, an adventurous spirit, and a LOT of patience.

With this, you may do well out there.  If you do find anything interesting, please do leave a comment below.  We would LOVE to hear about it!


About the author: Robert is a former teacher and travel buff, and has spent the last 30 years travelling to different parts of the world including all over North America, South America, Africa, and Europe.  He loves trying new cultural cuisine, zip-lining through the Amazon jungle, and his cat, Twyla-Mae.

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