Metal Detecting In Nevada?
You Should Know The Law

Metal detecting in Nevada follows the ARPA (Archeological Resources Preservation Act).

If you break this law, which has to do with State and Federal lands, you could go to jail.

I have many stories that have come to me about individuals who have either knowingly or not knowing the laws, broken them. And they were arrested, and even fined.

You will read some of these stories on other pages I have linked to.

Do Not Break The Law!

Be sure and read through the entire page at the link below.

ARPA and You

Even though ARPA does not specifically mention "metal detecting", you need to understand what ARPA says about digging artifacts.

Below is a brief definition of the Nevada law according to the ARPA law, and having to do with cave exploartion as well:

Metal Detecting In Nevada? Understand the law of antiguity. PRESERVATION OF PREHISTORIC AND HISTORIC SITES Section NRS 381.195 Definitions. As used in NRS 381.195 TO 381.227, inclusive: 1. "Historic" means after the middle of the 18th century. 2. "Historic site" means a site, landmark or monument of historical significance pertaining to the white man’s history of Nevada, or Indian campgrounds, shelters, petroglyphs, pictographs and burials. 3. "Prehistoric" means before the middle of the 18th century. 4. "Prehistoric site" means any archeological or paleontological site, ruin, deposit, fossilized footprints and other impressions, petroglyphs and pictographs, habitation caves, rock shelters, natural caves or burial ground.

(Added to NRS by 1959, 290; A 1960, 98; 1977, 1207; 1979, 977; 1985, 516) Section NRS 381.197 Permit required to investigate, explore or excavate historic or prehistoric site. No person shall investigate, explore or excavate an historic or prehistoric site on federal or state lands or remove any object there from unless he is the holder of a valid and current permit issued pursuant to the provisions of NRS 381.195 to 381.227, inclusive. (Added to NRS by 1959,290) Section NRS 381.199 Applicant for permit required to secure state and federal permits. Metal Detecting In Nevada? - know the law. 1. An applicant is required to secure, from the director, or an agent designated by the director, a permit for the investigation, exploration or excavation of any state or federal lands within the boundaries of the State of Nevada. 2. If the land to be investigated, explored or excavated is owned or held by the United States, the applicant is also required to secure a permit from the proper authorities in accordance with the provisions of 16 U.S.C. §§ 431 to 433, inclusive. (Added to NRS by 1959, 290: A1977, 1207)

Section NRS 381.201 Director may designate agents to issue permits; agents may adopt regulations.

The director may designate any state board, state department, division of a state department or state institution as an agent for the purpose of issuing permits. The agency so designated may adopt regulations relating to investigations, explorations or excavations carried out pursuant to any permit issued by that agency. (Added to NRS by 1959, 290: A 1977, 1207: 1989, 2000) Section NRS 381.203 Qualifications of applicant for permit; contents of application; regulations.

Metal detecting in Nevada? You need a permit to dig. 1. In order to qualify as the recipient of a permit, the applicant must show: (a) That the investigation, exploration or excavation is undertaken for the benefit of a reputable museum, university, college or other recognized scientific or educational institution, with a view of increasing knowledge. (b) That the gathering is made for permanent preservation in public museums or other recognized educational or scientific institutions. (c) That the applicant possesses sufficient knowledge and scientific training to make such an investigation, exploration or excavation. (d) The location of the site where the applicant proposes to investigate, explore or excavate. 2. The director may prescribe reasonable regulations for carrying out such investigations, explorations or excavations. (Added to NRS by 1959, 290: A 1977, 1207)

Section NRS 381.205 Notice to certain officers when permit granted. Upon granting the permit, the director shall immediately notify the office of historic preservation, the sheriff in the county in which the permit is to be exercised, and personnel of the Nevada highway patrol controlling the state roads of the district embracing the site in which the permit is to be exercised. (Added to NRS by 1959, 291; A 1963, 828; 1977, 1208, 1360; 1993, 1588) Section NRS 381.207 Percentage of articles, implements and materials found or discovered by certain holders of permits to be given to state institutions and political subdivisions.

Metal Detecting In Nevada? Pay attention to the Indian Burial sites.

1. The holder of a permit, except as provided in subsections 2 and 3, who does work upon aboriginal mounds and earthworks, ancient burial grounds, prehistoric sites, deposits of fossil bones or other archeological and vertebrate paleontological features within the state shall give to the state 50 percent of all articles, implements and materials found or discovered, to be deposited with the state museum, for exhibition or other use within the state as determined by the director. The director may, in his discretion, accept less than 50 percent of such items. Upon receipt of items pursuant to this subsection the director shall notify the office of historic preservation. 2. The holder of a permit who does any such work within the state under the authority and direction of the Nevada historical society, the Nevada museum and historical society, or an institution or political subdivision of the state shall give 50 percent of all articles, implements and materials found or discovered to the society, institution or political subdivision. The holder of the permit may retain the other 50 percent. 3. If the Nevada historical society, the Nevada museum and historical society, or an institution or political subdivision of the state is the holder of the permit, it may retain all articles, implements and materials found or discovered. 4. Whenever the office of historic preservation acquires articles, implements and materials under the provisions of this section, they must be transferred to the director for exhibition or other use within the state as determined by the director. (Added to NRS by 1959, 291; A 1977, 1208, 1360; 1985, 142; 1993, 1588)

Metal Detecting In Nevada requires a permit to dig. Just try and get one issued!

Section NRS 381.209 Permit: Limitations and conditions. The director may limit a permit as to time and location. A permit shall not be granted: 1. For a period of more than 1 year. 2. For investigation, exploration or excavation in a larger area than the applicant can reasonably be expected to explore fully and systematically within the time limit set in the permit. 3. For the removal of any ancient monument, structure or site which can be permanently preserved under the control of the State of Nevada in situ, and remain an object of interest, if desired by the state, for a park, landmark or monument for the benefit of the public. (Added to NRS by 1959, 292; A 1977, 1208)

National Historic Preservation Act. (NHPA)

In addition to the above mentioned ARPA law, if you are metal detecting in Nevada, you must be aware of another law.


As confusing as the above laws may seem, make it easy on yourself, if you are metal detecting in Nevada, do not dig anything that you believe is an artifact, or anything that is older than 100 years.

Remember, these laws are pertaining to State, or Federal Lands.

If you want to detect on private property, then be sure you get written permission from the landowner.

For detecting in Nevada, town, village and city parks, you'll need to check with those local officials.

I cannot be responsible for any outdated laws from the time of this posting.

Have you tried metal detecting in Nevada ghost towns? Click here for my homepage.

And remember, pay attention to the laws.

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