Treasure Hunting

Metal Detecting Laws By State

Recently got a new metal detector? Before you go on your adventure, you should first look into metal detecting laws by state.

Not much hunting can be done in your backyard, so it’s only natural that you’d want to go out and use your metal detector at different spots.

You cannot just go out and start digging anywhere in the neighborhood, though; you need to adhere to metal detecting laws.

Because each state has its own laws for metal detection, you should know what laws apply to your state and city before you go on your adventure.

Metal Detecting on National Parks

Before you look for metal detecting laws for your state, keep in mind that state laws don’t apply on federal lands.

We know that national parks are federal lands, so state laws about metal detection do not apply to these properties.

As per the Code of Federal Regulations, the use of metal detectors is NOT ALLOWED in national parks.

In fact, in some national parks, it is a felony to use these devices. 

Metal Detecting Laws by State

Some states have stricter laws, while others allow metal detection in certain areas without a permit.

Here are the laws for metal detectors in each state:

1. Alabama

It is prohibited to use metal detectors in state parks in Alabama. Also, you can’t use them and dig any aboriginal or burial grounds.

You may be able to use a metal detector in a state park with the permission of the park manager.

In general, you need a permit to detect metal on public lands in Alabama.

2. Alaska

Metal detection laws are more relaxed in the state of Alaska.

You don’t need a permit to use the device in non-prohibited areas.

The state follows the Archaeological Resources Preservation Act (ARPA), which bars you from pursuing your metal detection hobby on recreational areas and national monuments.

3. Arizona

In Arizona, you can use metal detectors in forests with a permit.

Similarly, you need a permit to hunt on lands that belong to the Bureau of Land Management.

The state also does not allow the archaeological collection on state lands.

Other than that, you don’t need a permit to hunt for non-relics in other areas.

4. Arkansas

Arkansas permits metal detection in certain public beaches. You can also use your device in state parks with a permit.

5. California

Like Alaska, the State of California also follows the ARPA regulations.

You can metal hunt on the active mining claims, but you cannot dig without permission. 

Most California state parks allow metal detection as long as you dig without destroying vegetation.

You can also use metal detectors on beaches in California.

6. Colorado

Generally, metal detection is allowed in Colorado, but you cannot remove artifacts.

You can do this in state parks, but you are not allowed to dig.

Some state parks may require a permit beforehand.

7. Connecticut

Connecticut has less strict laws regarding metal detection.

You can detect on lands of the Department of Environmental Science without a permit, and you can use metal detectors on beaches with a special permit.

The state also requires collectors to fill the holes they have dug.

Also, in case you got lucky and found personal artifacts, you must report them to the authorities.

8. Delaware

You can use metal detectors in beaches on state parks in Delaware during regular park hours.

Under the state park law, only beaches east of the dune line allow metal detection.

You cannot take artifacts older than 100 years, though, under the ARPA regulation.

9. Florida

Metal detection is legal on many beaches in Florida without the need for a permit.

That’s unlike many states where permits are required to detect on public lands.

Objects under the ground over 50 years qualify as state property, according to state laws.

It’s strictly prohibited on private properties.

10. Georgia

The state of Georgia also follows ARPA regulations, so you cannot use metal detectors on any federal lands.

You can use metal detectors on some beaches designated for this particular activity.

However, avoid metal detection in state parks in Georgia as it is prohibited.

11. Hawaii

In Hawaii, metal detection is permitted only on sandy beaches, and you don’t need a permit for most beaches.

Also, you cannot use these devices on archaeological sites.

12. Idaho

Idaho follows ARPA as well as the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

The latter act forbids metal detection and digging on historic lands.

As such, you need a permit to dig in the state parks of Idaho. 

Lands outside of ARPA and NHPA that are not private don’t necessarily require a permit.

13. Illinois

State park laws regarding metal detection vary in the state of Illinois. 

You need a permit to use detectors on certain state lands, including parks.

Some cities in the state also require special permission to use metal detectors on public lands.

14. Indiana

The Indiana state allows metal detection in most places only with a permit. This also includes picnic areas.

While metal detection is prohibited in state parks, you can obtain permission to use it on sandy beaches.

15. Iowa

Iowa allows metal detection on certain beaches with a designated period of the year and time of the day for that period.

Under the state park laws, you can detect from May 22 to September 27 every year.

During this time, you can use metal detectors from 4:00 am until 11:00 am.

The rest of the year, you can metal hunt from 4:00 am until 10:30 pm every day.

16. Kansas

In Kansas, there are no laws prohibiting the use of metal detectors.

However, it’s not permissible to dig holes in state parks.

17. Kentucky

Kentucky follows ARPA and also forbids the use of metal detectors on state parks.

You strictly need a permit to detect metals on state lands.

18. Louisiana

Louisiana does not allow the use of metal detectors on state parks.

You can obtain permits for metal detection for certain lakes from US Army Corps Engineers.

19. Maine

In Maine, metal detection is prohibited in historical sites.

Other than that, though, you can do it with written permission at parks.

20. Maryland

Historic places and properties with cultural significance are off-limits in Maryland.

You can detect metal in parks without a permit during the usual public hours. However, you need a permit to dig into parks.

21. Massachusetts

The state allows the use of metal detectors on campsites and beaches with the permission of the park manager.

Metal detection on saltwater and freshwater beaches is permitted.

Cities and towns in Massachusetts may have their own rules and regulations, though.

Woman Metal Detecting at the beach

22. Michigan

Michigan state laws dictate that you can use metal detectors in designated parks as long as there’s no damage. There are many state parks with such areas.

Other parks do not allow metal detection. 

As for beaches, there’s no particular law prohibiting metal detection, but you should check with local authorities.

23. Minnesota

Minnesota allows metal detection with a permit, except for state parks.

Like most other states, it also follows ARPA, so national sites are strictly off-limits.

24. Mississippi

You need permission from park executives to use metal detectors in Mississippi state parks.

It also limits metal detection on landmarks, which is a vague term, so it can be difficult to pinpoint what qualifies as a landmark exactly.

25. Missouri

In Missouri, metal detection is permitted on certain sandy beaches.

As for state parks, 13 state parks issue permits for this activity. These permits are free and valid for one calendar year.

26. Montana

If you’re in Montana, you can use metal detectors but cannot dig in lands under the Bureau of Land Management.

The state laws prohibit topsoil disturbance, which means you cannot detect and extract anything in state parks.

27. Nebraska

Metal detectors are allowed on certain public beaches in Nebraska and that too with restrictions. 

In some state parks with no such areas, it’s illegal even to carry a metal detector.

28. Nevada

Nevada follows both ARPA and NHPA.

As such, you need in-written permission to use metal detectors everywhere else.

You also need permits to carry this activity on mines.

29. New Hampshire

Metal detection is allowed in state parks in New Hampshire with certain restrictions.

You can use them on picnic spots, playgrounds, and some beaches.

30. New Jersey

You generally need a permit to use your metal detector in state-owned parks in New Jersey.

This means that you can use your metal detector anywhere other than state parks and national parks without needing a permit.

31. New Mexico

New Mexico only allows metal detection with a permit.

You cannot use it on some tribal lands, as per the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act.

32. New York

New York state parks require a permit before you can use a metal detector.

In New York City, the laws vary by boroughs.

For instance, in the famous Central Park, metal detectors are off-limits. They are allowed on some sandy beaches, like Far Rockaway in Queens.

You can check the regulations for specific boroughs and beaches.

33. North Carolina

You can get special permission to detect personal items lost in a state park in North Carolina.

As for beaches, you can use it where it’s allowed. Beaches south of Nags Head are strictly off-limits.

34. North Dakota

In North Dakota, metal detectors are generally not allowed in parks. You may be able to get permission at the discretion of the park managers.

Commonly, they give permission to search for lost items only, so you cannot really go treasure hunting in state parks. 

It’s also illegal to treasure hunt on lands belonging to the Bureau of Reclamation. 

35. Ohio

In Ohio, metal detection is allowed on public beaches with permission from park authorities.

Anywhere else, you’ll need permission from appropriate authorities.

36. Oklahoma

Oklahoma state parks allow the use of metal detectors subject to prior permission from park authorities.

37. Oregon

You can use metal detectors for recreational purposes on public beaches in Oregon. However, certain state parks require permits.

38. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania does not allow digging for antiquities and precious items in state-owned lands. 

In some state parks, metal detection is possible with prior permission. 

As for the beaches, you can use metal detectors between the Tuesday after Labor Day and the Saturday before Memorial Day.

Usually, it’s specifically allowed at a distance from the shore.

39. Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, you can only use metal detectors in designated areas at designated times. For these areas, you don’t need a permit.

40. South Carolina

The state of South Carolina allows the use of metal detectors in some state parks.

However, in some of these state parks, you can only use it within specific areas.

41. South Dakota

You generally need a permit for metal detecting in South Dakota. 

Many state parks only give permission for retrieving lost personal effects. 

On beaches, you can use the equipment in public areas only, not on the dunes.

42. Tennessee

In Tennessee, you cannot use metal detectors for recreational use.

Special permission is necessary to use this equipment and only to the extent of searching for your lost personal items.

43. Texas

In Texas, metal detection is allowed in most state parks, but only with a permit.

Most of the land in Texas is private, so you cannot use metal detectors without permission from the owners.

44. Utah

Utah state laws require a permit for the use of metal detectors.

Also, by law, you should hand over any findings to the park office. 

45. Vermont

In Vermont, you don’t need a permit for metal detection in state parks. However, you should report to the authorities first.

On the other hand, historical and archeological sites are protected and do not allow metal detectors.

46. Virginia

You need permission to use metal detectors on all state-owned lands in Virginia.

It’s also permissible on the Bureau of Land Management lands, as long as you don’t remove artifacts.

47. Washington

Metal detection is generally permissible with some restrictions.

In 30 of the state parks in Washington, it’s allowed without a permit. 

Some parks allow the use of metal detectors in specific areas only, though.

48. West Virginia

In West Virginia, this kind of hobby is not permitted in state parks and forests. It follows the NHPA regulations, as well.

49. Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the land and water bodies under the Department of Natural Resources are off-limits for metal detection. 

Thankfully, you can obtain permission to recover a specific lost item.

Whereas, you may be able to use them on beaches with no vegetation. 

50. Wyoming

Metal detectors are specifically allowed for official use in state parks in Wyoming, but not for hobbyists.

You usually need permission for any kind of use on any type of land.


The very first thing you need to do after buying a metal detector is to make sure to find out the metal detecting rules in your area. 

As always, avoid using metal detectors on private properties without the permission of the owners.

You should obtain written permission in most cases where necessary and adhere to metal detecting laws by state.