Detecting in rivers

Metal Detecting in RIVERS [Complete Guide for Valuable Finds]

Metal Detecting in Rivers

Almost every metal detectorist has at some point or the other; go to the riverside to indulge in their hobby.

There are some excellent opportunities for detecting enthusiasts near a river. Indeed, it could hold in its crossing all kinds of historical targets.

However, it won’t be a smart idea to approach detecting there with the normal way. In fact, you need to consider couple of adjustments so you will have a good experience.

Here, in this Post, I let you know about some helpful tips to maximize your security while exploring rivers. In addition, I am revealing some good examples of rivers around the world that you can opt for or at least opt from rivers with their same characteristics.

Helpful Tips for metal detecting in rivers (for your security)

Detecting near a river could be tricky in some cases and very challenging in others. That’s why; you probably need to consider approaching it in a particular way, so you will get the most out of it …

… So here are some tips that should make the task much easier for you:

1. Carry bug spray: You might think that you are very tough and not need bug spray, but you will be surprised at the swarms of mosquitoes and other flying insects you will find near a river.

So be prepared and lather your hands, legs, and any other exposed skin with bug spray. This will also offer protection against ticks if you need to cross through the woods to reach the river.

2. Know the tides: If you are planning to detect in a river that has strong tides, then you need to ensure you know the timings of the high tides and plan your detecting outings accordingly.

In fact, these tides tend to come in extremely fast, so make sure that you do not stray too far away from the riverbank.

3. Carry a cell phone: Exploring in a river can be a beautiful experience, yet it can also hold some risks.

So, keep a lookout for any animals that may stray towards the river from the nearing woods and getting lost is also a very real possibility. You can also slip and fall down, injuring yourself.

Thus, keeping a cell phone handy will help you out in case of an accident or if you need help …

… Keep in mind that there are a ton of mobile apps that could be very helpful while using your machine! You can check these helpful mobile apps for detection activities! There are helpful and free apps in there …

What are the best detectors for rivers?

Rivers can turn up some pretty amazing and valuable finds. In fact, there are many chances where swimmers end up losing coins, rings, and other valuable jewelry.

However, when you detect there, you need to ensure that you have the correct equipment with you so that you can ensure optimal results.

Remember that not all machines are capable of hunting inside or around water. Neither are they built to go detect metallic items from a riverbed.

Below some examples of machines that will operate in rivers just fine:

There are also many types of underwater machines that you can use for that case. Pulse induction detectors are the best when it comes to deeper waters.

They are also well designed to ignore any salt present in the water. Though these detectors cannot discriminate between iron and junk without you ending up losing the good signals.

Also, keep in mind that you may need a little Boat to be in a better position to come across better and more valuable finds! This Reliable Little Boat on Amazon is a good example!

What finds should you expect in rivers?

Detecting in rivers can be an exciting journey, with many treasures just waiting there for you to find. Exploring the riverside/riverbed, and even while hiking around the area is a good way to go.

Shallow water metal detecting can prove to be very profitable. However, a lot also depends on the history of your region and the amount of people traffic that is there at the river.

Some rivers along the eastern coast of the United States, for example, often reveal valuable Civil War coins and relics.

At the same time, rivers in the southern United States are often hosting treasures of Spanish gold and silver coins from a galleon.

Gold nuggets can also be found in many rivers across the state of Colorado and also on the western coast of the US.

Some examples of targets you can opt for while exploring rivers includes:

  • Silver and gold coins
  • Gold and diamond rings
  • Civil War Buttons
  • Gold and silver necklaces
  • Bracelets and watches
  • Gemstone-mounted religious medallions
  • Trade tokens

Best rivers in the world for metal detecting

Not only detectorists are keen to explore rivers nearby in their region, but many times they travel all over the world to explore the most beautiful rivers in the world.

Let’s have a look at some of the best rivers in that you can explore worldwide:

  • In China, metal detecting in the Yangtze River is a wonderful experience. In fact, it is known to be the longest river in Asia, the Yangtze River passes through barren rocky slopes, forests, mountains, and the countryside, holding end number of treasures for hobbyists.
  • If you are in Chile or Argentina, then you should not miss the chance of exploring the Rio Futaleufu River.
    This is known as one of the most majestic rivers, with some of the brightest colored water. The aqua blue color of this river can be found nowhere else, making it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to detect at this beautiful and magnificent site.
  • In the US, the Gros Ventre River in Wyoming (Learn about metal detecting in Wyoming), with its many tributaries, is a breathtaking site for explorers. This river is most well-known for the unspoiled nature that surrounds it.

Is it beneficial to detect in River Fords?

A river ford is a shallow place on the river that allows you to find some good footing. It is a place from where you can cross the river by wading or also with a vehicle.

A river ford would be a good place to detect because the water is shallow. Thus, it will allow you to find some items easily.

When you are exploring around a river ford, all the attention should be on the water flow. The best possible area to detect at a river ford would be the lowest part of the water flow, where the heavy items tend to accumulate over a period of time.

Secondly, if a part of the water flow is moving up and over another raised section, then you should search at the base of this higher or elevated portion to look for any embedded materials that are heavier and would not be able to make it over the raised section.

If you find trees in the path at the river ford, then make sure to check the bases of the trees and do this while using a large coil so that you are able to easily maximize the depth of your detector.

It is best to work the river ford area on a grid … Depending upon the crossing, the water flow, the altitude, and the overall structure of the ford.

Detecting on river banks – What you should know

It is not always easy to predict what you find along a river bank if you decide to detect there!

In some areas where there is a lot of flooding, the river often washes up all sorts of goodies into the river banks, making it a very lucrative spot for hobbyists.

At the same time, many cities have developed their river banks for recreation purposes. Thus, it won’t be the best spot for detecting.

For example, if you metal detect along the river banks of the city of Banaras in India, chances are high that you might find something valuable and historic as the city is steeped in history.

Same goes for exploring along the banks of the Tigris River in Iraq (had the conditions been better and safer of course).

At the same time, you will be unlikely to find anything along the banks of the Torrens River in Adelaide. Indeed, the city has developed its river banks for recreational use.

Are river beds a good place to detect?

Depending on where you live and the history of your area, river beds can be a very good place for hobbyists.

In areas that are known for the Gold Rush, there is a possibility that floods in the rivers and heavy rains could have washed away the gold into the river beds.

In fact, along with the river bed of the Mississippi, many local detectorists have found that due to the type of soil of the river bed, ancient coins have often been found that have sunk there.

Another example would be of the Arkansas River that runs through Wichita. It is believed that there is a lot of gold to be found in the river bed here from the Colorado Mountains.

It is also believed that the Missouri River’s sand bars at the river bed contain a lot of valuable items due to the many boats that sunk into the river in the 1800s.

Detectorists hunting along the St. Croix River, which borders Minnesota (Learn about using a metal detector there) and Wisconsin (Learn about metal detecting in Wisconsin), have also found some interesting artifacts at the river bed.

Missouri’s Current River is also another good spot for detecting at the river bed.

Detecting on river beaches – What you should know

We commonly assume that beaches can only be found along the seashore. However, many lakes and large rivers also have beaches.

In fact, some hobbyists are of the opinion that it is even better to metal detect along the river beaches as compared to coastal beaches.

Not only do you get to avoid the salty waters and mineralized soil commonly associated with beaches, but you will also be able to detect in a quieter surrounding as river beaches are usually not as crowded as the coastal beaches.

Some of the best river beaches you can metal detect at include:

  • Cloverdale River Park
  • Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach
  • Riverfront Regional Park
  • Steelhead Beach
  • Sunset Beach River Park
  • The many river beaches in Portugal
  • Murray River beaches in Australia

Is it a good idea to detect while river crossing?

The opinion of experiences detectorists on whether or not it is a good idea to detect while river crossing is extremely divided!

While most hobbysists firmly believe that it is not a good idea and too dangerous … There are many who believe that the river crossing would be a good place as it washes down and accumulates a lot of valuable items from all over the places where the river is passing through.

However, it is likely that whatever valuable items or jewelry is there, it gets quickly covered by the silt which is being carried down the river.

So, finding jewelry amongst the rocks while river crossing would be extremely difficult. Also, it is highly unlikely that you will find anything ancient or historically important.

Is it a smart idea to detect in river fall?

While a river fall would not be the most ideal place for hobbyists, you can still give it a try!

Sometimes if you look around the rocks in the river, down past the falls, then you might be in luck and find something.

Rings, bracelets, and some other items tend to roll in the current of the river, especially if the place is frequented by people.

The strength of the river falls is likely to churn these jewelry items downstream, while anything heavy will tend to settle in the river bed.

Looking at the base of the river fall would also be a good location. One of the most popular river falls you can metal detect is the Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica.


Hopefully, you’ve learnt helpful information here that will allow you to prepare for your next detecting sprint in a river.

Keep in mind that besides the wonderful opportunities there is, there are some risks that I’ve talked about earlier. That’s why, be careful, nothing come before your safety!

Finally, I would love to know what you actually think:

  • Did you ever detect in or around rivers?
  • If so what was the experience like?

Let me know below, so other people will learn from you …

… Finally, Rivers are often associated with lakes … That’s why, if you are interested about that too … You should have a deep look at this Guide for Detecting in Lakes! You will learn some helpful info in there …

About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.