Metal Detecting in Virginia (Complete Guide)

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Cory Haasnoot

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The Old Dominion State of Virginia was the 10th state to be admitted to the Union on June 25, 1788. With Virginia being one of the first 13 states of the United States there are bound to be many artifacts, coins, relics, and jewelry buried beneath its soil. Much history has taken place in this state over the years and many lost treasure legends abound in Virginia.

So if you are interested in metal detecting in Virginia you will have a very good chance of finding something of interest and value. In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know before metal detecting in Virginia.

You will learn about some of the best places to treasure hunt, and where you could stay while metal detecting in Virginia. We will also dive into some of the lost treasures of Virginia and the best metal detector to use, while you seek out treasure in Virginia. By the end of this guide, you will be well equipped to have a successful treasure hunting outing in Virginia!

Metal Detecting Laws in Virginia

Law Books

Before you go metal detecting and treasure hunting anywhere you need to know the laws that pertain to the areas you plan on hunting. You also will want to make sure you get the right permissions or permits before you take out your metal detector and go treasure-seeking.

In this section, you will learn the laws about metal detecting that govern Virginia and some main laws that govern every state in the United States. 

ARPA act of 1979

The ARPA act of 1979 or Archaeological Resources Protection Act is the main law you need to abide by when metal detecting in Vermont. It essentially states that you will not disturb, remove or desecrate any known archeology site on Federal Lands and Native American Lands of the United States. So this act pertains to every state in the Union. All other laws described below follow the ARPA act of 1979.

Antiquities Act of 1906

The Antiquities Act of 1906 was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt. This law was put into place to protect the looting of Indian artifacts that was being done mostly in the western United States at the time. Because of this law, you are not allowed to remove any artifact from State or Federal Lands that’s more than 100 years old.

Metal Detecting Laws in Vermont

There are no specific laws associated with metal detecting in Virginia but you need to get permits in many places where you plan on metal detecting. For example, the state parks of Virginia require you to get a permit in order to metal detect in its parks. Also, there are designated areas in the parks that allow metal detection. Metal detecting is allowed on manmade beaches with a Department of Conservation and Recreation  (DCR) permit. You can register for a permit at the park you plan on metal detecting at.


A permit is required to metal detect in Bureau of Land Management areas for relics. You don’t need a permit to metal detect for non-relic items. So I would recommend just getting the permit before metal detecting in BLM lands because you never know if you are going to find a relic or non-relic item while you treasure hunt there. For more information on where to obtain a permit to metal detect on BLM land visit their website here.

Can You Metal Detect in National Parks of Virginia?

Manassas National Battlefield Park
Manassas National Battlefield Park

No, metal detecting is not allowed in the National Parks of Virginia.

Can You Metal Detect in the National Forests of Virginia?

Yes, metal detecting is allowed in the National Forests of Virginia as long as you obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Check out their website here.

Cities In Virginia That Allow Metal Detecting

There are a few cities that allow metal detecting in Virginia with written permission or a permit. They are:

  • Fredericksburg, VA
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Newport, VA
  • Williamsburg, VA

Cities in Virginia That Don’t Allow Metal Detecting

Here’s a shortlist of cities that don’t allow metal detecting.

  • Hopewell, VA
  • Petersburg, VA
  • Manassas, VA
  • Glouchester County, VA

It’s a good idea to check with specific cities or counties before metal detecting to make sure you can do so or to obtain the correct permit. Knowing metal detecting laws will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run!

Is There Gold In Virginia?

Placer Gold

You are probably wondering if you can find gold in Virginia. Gold hasn’t been mined on a large scale in Virginia since 1947. Gold was first discovered and mined in Virginia in 1804 in Spotsylvania County out of the Whitehall mine.

There is an area called the gold-pyrite belt that runs for 140 miles on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Piedmont region between the counties of Fairfax to Appomattox.

There are also 7 rivers that you can pan for placer gold in Virginia. They are:

  1. Rappahannock River
  2. Dan River
  3. Rapidan River
  4. Willis River
  5. Potomac River
  6. Shenandoah River
  7. James River

So there are plenty of places to find gold in Virginia. Along with panning for gold in the rivers, you can also use a waterproof metal detector like the Garrett AT Gold to find gold in the rivers and streams of Virginia.

Digging Deeper: How to Metal Detecting Rivers and Streams: Complete Guide

What Are The Best Places to Metal Detect in Virginia?

Virginia has a lot of history and many lost treasures to be found. There are many great places that you can metal detect in Virginia they are listed below.

Twin Lakes State Park

Twin Lakes State Park

Twin Lakes Park is a 548-acre historical state park located close to Farmville, Virginia. There are 33 campsites and 11 climate-controlled cabins you can stay at while visiting Twin Lakes park. You can enjoy boating hiking fishing and swimming there as well as picnicking near Prince Edward Lake or Goodwin Lake which make up the Twin Lakes.

Check the park before metal detecting there for required permits.

Twin Lakes State Park

Colonial Beach

Colonial Beach Pier
Colonial Beach Pier – By Ser Amantio di Nicolao, CC BY 3.0, Link

Colonial Beach is the second largest beach in Virginia. Its located in Colonial Beach Virginia. This region once had many thriving plantations and farms during the colonial times and some were owned by George Washington, James Monroe, and other prominent figures of the time.

The beach itself is highly trafficked and this would be a metal detectorist’s dream come true. The possibility of finding valuables on this beach is very high. As always ask permission before metal detecting at Colonial Beach.

Colonial Beach

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Bear Creek Lake State Park
Bear Creek Lake State Park – By Virginia State Parks staff Uploaded by Albert Herring, CC BY 2.0, Link

Bear Creek Lake Park is another great state park to do some treasure hunting at. This park is located in the middle of Cumberland State Forest in central Virginia. Bear Creek Lake has a wonderful beach and you can camp, boat, fish, swim, hike, and even play archery among other activities while enjoying the beauty of the wilderness. This park is on the U.S. National Register for Historic Places.

Metal detecting is allowed with a permit from the park manager. Keep in mind to fill any holes you may dig and leave things as you found them. Using the proper ethics while metal detecting will ensure that you and others will be allowed to metal detect in the future.

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Buckroe Beach

Buchroe Beach Lighthouse
Buchroe Beach Lighthouse

Buchroe Beach is located in Hampton Virginia. This area was used as a fishing camp after the Civil War and now is home to an amusement park. Finding valuables in the sands on the beach is highly likely since many tourists visit this beach and amusement park every year. Make sure to get permission before metal detecting and beachcombing here.

Digging Deeper: Beginners Guide to Beach Metal Detecting

Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Smith Mountain Lake State Park – By Wikipelli Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

This state park is located near Huddleston, Virginia on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake. The beach here is busy when it is warm and sunny so try to plan metal detecting here when the weather is cooling like in the fall or springtime. This is a 1,148-acre park where you can enjoy swimming, hiking, camping, picnicking, and metal detector with a permit.

You can also partake in water recreation on Smith Mountain Lake which is the second-largest freshwater lake in Virginia.

Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Hungry Mother State Park

Hungry Mother State Park
Hungry Mother State Park

Hungry Mother State Park is located in Smyth County Virginia on Hungry Mother Creek. This park was one of the original six parks constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps that opened in June of 1936. This park was added to the U.S. National Historic Register in 2007.

Activities to do while at the park are hunting, fishing, swimming, and metal detecting with permission. You can also stay in one of the cabins in the park or even stay in one of their yurts which are round and constructed like a tent. There’s also a legend behind the name of the park that you can read about here.

Lake Anna State Park

Lake Anna State Park Beach
Lake Anna State Park Beach – By Wikipelli Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Lake Anna State Park was originally the site of the Goodwin Gold mine in Spotsylvania County in Virginia. Lake Anna in the park was created by putting a damming up North Anna River which Dominion Power used as a coolant for their nuclear plant nearby.

This park has many accommodations that you can stay at overnight including yurts, cabins, lodges, and camping sites. You can swim, fish, hike, boat, and metal detect here. Before metal detecting, make sure you get the proper permits to do so before you start your treasure hunt.

Lake Anna State Park

What’s The Best Metal Detector to use in Virginia?

Now that you know a few places that are great for metal detecting in Virginia you are probably wondering what the best metal detector to use is in Virginia. My recommendation is the Garrett AT Pro.

Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector

I recommend this metal detector because it has all the features that more expensive metal detectors have. The AT stands for all-terrain which means it’s a suitable detector for whatever type of ground you find yourself treasure hunting on. This metal detector is priced at under $600 and you can find it on Amazon.

Is There Any Lost Treasure in Virginia?

Virginia has been a stomping ground for many people over the last few hundred years and with all those people coming to and settling in Virginia there are a number of lost treasures waiting to be reclaimed. Below I have laid out some of Virginia’s most famous lost treasure legends.

Gray Ghost Treasure

$350,000 in gold, silver, and jewelry is buried somewhere between Norman and Culpeper Virginia.

Pirate William Kirks Buried Booty

$60,000 worth of gold and silver coins are said to be buried on Snow Hill Farm close to the town of Baltimore, Virginia in Fauquier County!

Hidden Beale Treasure

$93 million in gold, silver, and jewels is said to be buried on the land where Johnson’s Orchard and Peaks of Otter Winery now sit in Bedford County VA.

Abraham Smith’s Buried Treasure

$60,000 in gold coins is said to be hidden in an old saltpeter mine in Poor Valley between Allison’s Gap and Saltville Virginia.

The Confederate Treasury of Richmond Buried on The James River

$3 million in gold, silver plate, and jewelry is said to be buried two miles south of Richmond along the banks of the James River.

Lost Treasure on the McIntosh Farm

$4 million in gold coins and bullion is said to be buried on the McIntosh Farm that’s located just off of Route 11 near Lynchburg, VA.

Pirate Charles Wilson’s Buried Treasure Chests

200,000 pounds sterling of diamonds, gold and silver bars, gold and silver coins, and jewels are said to be buried on Assateague Island.

Best Places to Stay While Metal Detecting in Virginia

After a long day of metal detecting and treasure hunting in Virginia, you will want a great place to rest your head and relax. Below I have compiles a list of 5 of the best places to stay while you are visiting Virginia.


Primland is a luxury resort located near Meadows of Dan Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This resort sits on 12,000 acres of beauty tucked away in the mountains surrounded by forests.

You can either stay in one of their log cabins, in the regal lodge, or in a treehouse that sits above the Dan River Gorge. Activities to partake in at the resort are mountain biking, hiking, trout fishing, or enjoying your time at the Auberge spa at the resort.

Primland Resort

Kingsmill Resort

Kingsmill Resort
Kingsmill Resort

Kingsmill Resort is located on the banks of the James River near the town of Williamsburg, Virginia. You can either relax in one of their regular rooms and suites or bask in luxury in one of their condos that are fit for a king. Some of the suites include a fireplace and balconies.

On the resort grounds, there are two 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts, a spa, an indoor swimming pool, and more. Don’t forget to visit Colonial Williamsburg during your stay.

Kingsmill Resort

Salamander Resort and Spa

Salamander Resort and Spa is located in Middleburg Virginia on 340-acres of lush green rolling countryside. There are 168 rooms and suites available to book. Enjoy a fresh farm-cooked meal in their farm-to-table restaurant. 

Activities to enjoy while staying at this resort would be zip lines, horseback riding, swimming in one of the three pools here, and the luxury spa on the property. There is also a putting green on the property and a culinary garden you can enjoy.

Salamander Resort and Spa

Hilton Virginia Beach Ocean Front

Hilton Virginia Beach Ocean Front is located right on Virginia Beach. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean from one of their suites with a balcony. Enjoy swimming in one of their pools. One of those pools is a rooftop pool with a hot tub.

There are 189 rooms and suites, a fitness center, and two restaurants to dine at. The resort is a short walk to Neptune’s Park and the boardwalk.

Hilton Virginia Beach Ocean Front

The Inn at Willow Grove

This historic Inn is located in Orange, Virginia. The Willow Grove Inn was originally a plantation built by Joseph Clark in 1778. The Inn sits on 40-acres of beautifully landscaped rolling hills. 

There are 14 rooms and suites to book at this four-star inn. Relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and also enjoy a gourmet meal in the middle of Virginia’s Wine Country.

The Inn at Willow Grove

Along with these 5 resorts and inns, there are many other great accommodations available throughout Virginia. If you enjoy the outdoors you may opt for one of the campgrounds in this state or bring an RV and stay at one of the RV parks in Virginia. Wherever you stay I know you will enjoy the beauty and history that Virginia has to offer while you search for lost treasure!

Conclusion – Metal Detecting in Virginia

That concludes this guide about metal detecting in Virginia. Now you know the best places to metal detect in the state, where the best places to stay are, some of the lost treasures awaiting discovery, and the best metal detector to use while metal detecting in Virginia. You are now prepared to have a successful treasure hunting vacation in the old dominion state of Virginia.

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Author: Cory Haasnoot

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.