The first season (show named Gold Rush: Alaska) featured six men from Sandy, Oregon, a small town 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Portland, who, due to the economic downturn, have lost their jobs. They decided on an all-stakes gamble – travel to Porcupine Creek, Alaska and prospect for gold. Most of the people on the show have little or no previous gold mining experience and must learn on the job.
In season 2, (show renamed to Gold Rush) Todd misses a lease payment on Porcupine Creek and "Dakota" Fred Hurt buys the claim from owner Earl Foster, not needing to honor the lease due to the missed payment. The season explores the Hoffman crew's new mine at Quartz Creek, in the Klondike region of the Yukon, Canada as well as "Dakota" Fred's operation at the site of the original Hoffman mine, Porcupine Creek, and Parker Schnabel's attempts to mine his grandfather's property at Big Nugget Mine.
Porcupine Creek (Hurt et al.): 80.4 oz (2,280 g) $125,000
Big Nugget Mine (Schnabel et al.): 34 oz (960 g) $55,000
Quartz Creek (Hoffman et al.): 93.5 oz (2,650 g) $150,000
The third season began in October 2012. The Hoffman crew returned to the Klondike to once again mine the Quartz Creek site but also brought on additional crewmen to simultaneously work another site in the area. But, with Hoffman having delays and equipment trouble at his site, they decided to merge. Parker Schnabel returned to the Big Nugget Mine site with larger and more efficient equipment, while "Dakota" Fred Hurt and his crew returned to the Porcupine Creek site.
The Hoffman crew mined 803oz. of gold earning them over $1.28 million, Parker and Dakota Fred mined 191oz. and 163oz, respectively, worth over a quarter million dollars each. This in comparison to the first season where nobody recovered more than 50oz. of gold.
The fourth season began airing August 2013 and started with a pre-season episode called "The Dirt" featuring interviews with all of the teams featured in season three. "Gold Rush: Guyana South America" features the Hoffman crew in South America, Parker Schnabel guest-mining on new land with mentor Tony Beets, and "Dakota" Fred Hurt and his son Dustin mining at Cahoon Creek, a hard-to-reach, post-glacial area mined only with pickaxes in the late 1800s.
The real Season 4 premiere was October 25, 2013.
The Hoffman crew mined barely 2 ounces of gold and were forced to pack up and leave their Guyana mining operation; the Dakota boys mined 280 oz.; Parker and his crew mined 836 ounces by the end of the season. He then stayed and continued mining with Rick and picked up an additional 193, bringing his season total to 1,029 ounces. Parker's $1.4 million haul not only broke Todd Hoffman's single-season record of 803 oz., but also eclipsed Hoffman's entire four-season total.
The two-hour Gold Rush Season 5 premiere kicked off Friday, October 17, 2014, at 9 PM ET/PT with The Dirt airing beforehand at 8 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel
By season's end, Parker mined 2,538 ounces totaling just under $3 million and the Hoffmans mined 1,349 ounces totaling just over $1.6 million.
The two-hour Gold Rush Season 6 premiere started in the US on October 16, 2015, at 9 PM ET/PT with The Dirt airing beforehand at 8 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel, while the UK premiere was on October 20, 2015. By the season's end, Parker managed to mine 3,372 ounces worth almost $3.5 million, while the Hoffmans mined 3,032 ounces worth just over $3 million.
Aftershows and specials
Numerous "aftershows" and specials have been produced that document behind-the-scenes action, additional footage, as well as interviews with miners and crew.
Gold Rush: The Jungle
Between the second and third seasons, Todd Hoffman and several crew members traveled to a remote site in Guyana in South America to determine the feasibility of opening up an operation there during the Klondike offseasons. The trip was covered in a single one-hour episode. Although they did discover gold on the claim site, it was not of a sufficient quantity to cover the high expenses of mining the remote site which was accessible only by hiking through a trackless jungle after a harrowing river passage. While the Hoffman crew does go to Guyana for season 4 a year later, given the low probability of profitability, Hoffman chose not to pursue the venture for season 3. The episode ended with doubt about whether they would return.
Gold Rush: South America
Between the third and the fourth seasons, Todd Hoffman and several crew members traveled to South America to prospect for gold in Peru, Chile, and Guyana. This was covered in several episodes, in a summer season for Gold Rush.
- The Big Nugget mine used a crew of 4 for season 2 (Parker Schnabel crew), and 5 for season 3 (Parker Schnabel crew).
- The Jim Nail Placer Mine used a crew of 7 for season 1 (Hoffman crew), 2 (3 at times) for season 2 (Dakota Fred crew), and 3 for season 3 (Dakota Fred crew).
- The Quartz Creek mine used a crew of 7 for season 2 (Hoffman crew), and 6 for the first half of season 3 (Hoffman crew).
- The Indian River mine used a crew of 6 for the first half of season 3 (Dave Turin crew), and 13 for the other half of season 3 (Hoffman/Turin crew).
- The Q.O.D. Mine used a crew of 10 for season 4 (Hoffman crew).
- The Scribner Creek Mine used a crew of 6 for season 4 (Parker Schnabel crew), and 8 for season 5 (Parker Schnabel crew).
- The McKinnon Creek Mine used a crew of 8 for season 5 (Hoffman/Turin crew).
|1 – present||Todd Hoffman (age 41)||Inspired by his father's gold mining adventures in the 1980s.|
|1 – present||Jack Hoffman (age 65)||Father of Todd, he previously mined for gold in Alaska 25 years ago, and joins the crew for a second chance to live his dream.|
|1 – present||Jim Thurber (age 54)||An expert sheet metal worker with more than 30 years experience, he serves as the crew's safety officer. The economic downturn cost him his business.|
|2 – present||Dave Turin (age 52)||A guest star for several episodes of season 1, he comes on full-time for season 2. He is an experienced quarry foreman. Todd convinces him to chase his gold mining dream, join the group, and take some time off from his family's business.|
|2 – present||Parker Schnabel (age 21)||Parker was given the Big Nugget mine in season 2 when his grandfather, John Schnabel, decided to step down. He guest-starred and appeared to give advice in Season One.|
|2 – present||Roger Schnabel||Recurring guest star, part-owner of Big Nugget mine, father of Parker Schnabel, son of John Schnabel.|
|2 – present||Gary Grogan||Recurring guest star, employee at Big Nugget mine.|
|1 – present||Fred Dodge||Recurring guest star, helped the Hoffman Crew re-assemble their wash plant in Season 1. He returned to the Klondike in Season 2 to give the Hoffmans better gold recovery tools. He also went to Guyana with the crew in Season 4.|
|2 – present||Tony Beets (age 55)||Dutch-Canadian gold miner and owner of the Tamarack Mine, one of the most successful mining operations in the Klondike. He also owns and leased out the Scribner Creek claim that Parker Schnabel mined in season 4. Beets will have his own crew for season 5, working on moving a 75-year-old Dredge from Clear Creek to his claim over 150 miles away in the Indian River|
|1 – present||Chris Doumitt (age 59)||Originally he was only meant to come to Alaska for ten days — to help build a cabin for Greg Remsburg and his family. But gold mining quickly got under his skin and he ended up staying for five months and becoming a key member of the team. He calls himself a "pumpologist". Chris retired from the Hoffman crew after season 3. In season 4 and season 5, he worked for Parker Schnabel.|
|1||Jimmy Dorsey||A Realtor and self-confessed adrenaline junkie. After an off-camera physical altercation with Greg Remsburg, he left the mining crew in season one. He has claimed at least parts of the show are scripted.|
|1–2||James Harness||The crew mechanic, he prided himself on being able to repair nearly anything. However, a car wreck left him with metal pins in his ankle and a severe spinal injury which, due to lack of finances, he could not afford to have surgically repaired. A Baltimore medical center donated a medical procedure to correct his back problem, which resulted in the need for yearly injections. During season 2 when operations were halted due to dirty water, Todd asked him to build a water filter. Instead, he left the camp to spend a week with his girlfriend in a motel. At the end of the season, the crew fired him, blaming him for missing their 100-ounce target. James died in June 2014 at age 57, reportedly of a stroke.|
|1||Earle Foster||Recurring guest star in season 1, owner of Jim Nail Placer Mine in season 1; cameo appearances in season 2 and 3. Died in season 4.|
|1||Michael Halstead||In the first season "Pastor Mike" was billed as the crew pastor. Mike was pastor of the Harvest Christian Church in Troutdale, Oregon at the time. He had done charity work in Mexico in the past and had met Jack Hoffman twenty years ago on one of those trips. Jack introduced Mike to elk hunting and the two of them shared an enthusiasm for outdoor adventures, often going on trips together. He took part in a few episodes in the first half of season one, but went home for an unknown reason and was never mentioned again.|
|3||Wayne "Nugget Brain" Peterson||Joining the Dakota Boys for part of Season 3, Wayne was an experienced miner who has been working claims since 1983. He was fired by Dakota Fred due to his use of Oxycodone (with prescription) to treat a back problem.|
|3||Jason Otteson||Main investor for Hoffman/Turin crew for season 3. Set a 350 ounce ultimatum and, when it was not met, he suggested to Todd that he should cut some crew. He was never seen or mentioned again|
|1–4||"Dakota" Fred Hurt (age 70)||After advising the Hoffman crew in the last half of season 1, Dakota Fred returns for season 2 to purchase the Jim Nail Placer mine to mine himself with his own crew. Fred, Dustin, and Melody left the show after season 4.|
|2–4||Dustin Hurt (age 34)||Dustin is "Dakota" Fred's son. He worked at the Jim Nail Placer mine in Season Two. Left the show after season 4.|
|3–4||Melody Tallis (age 51)||Joining the Dakota Boys in Season 3, Melody is an experienced miner who has been working claims across Alaska since 2002. Left the show after season 4, along with the Dakota Fred and Dustin, although during Season 5 she can be seen working loaders and monitors in the background of shots covering Tony Beets, and also worked with Freddy Dodge at Carmacks.|
|1 – 5||Greg Remsburg (age 41)||Greg left the Hoffman crew after season 3 for undisclosed reasons; however, he returned to work with Parker Schnabel in season 4 in the Klondike.Left the show after season 5.|
|1 – 6||John Schnabel (age 96)||Recurring guest star, owner of Big Nugget mine and grandfather of Parker Schnabel and Payson Schnabel. He died in his sleep on March 18, 2016.|
- Alaskan Panhandle
- Alaska, United States
- Jim Nail Placer Mine, a tributary of the Klehini River in the Chilkat Valley, on the East bank of Porcupine Creek. The closest airport being Haines, Alaska. When the Hoffmans arrived at Porcupine Creek in Season 1, the mine was unnamed. In Season 2 'Dakota' Fred Hurt purchased the porcupine creek mine and renamed it the Jim Nail Placer Mine.(Coordinates: ).
- Big Nugget Mine "Emerson Trench" along the West Bank of Porcupine Creek; & Smith Creek / Smith Creek Hill and the Discovery Claim further up the valley. (Coordinates: ).
- The Klondike
- Yukon, Canada in the Klondike Region, near Dawson City.
- Quartz Creek Mine, outside of Dawson City: on Quartz Creek, at the confluence with Toronto Creek; & Calder Creek, 1 km North-west of Indian River Mine. (Coordinates: ).
- Indian River Mine, 2 miles from Quartz Creek Mine, on the Indian River 36 km South-west of Dawson City (Coordinates: ).
- McKinnon Creek Mine, 28 miles South of Dawson between McKinnon and Montana Creek. Leased from Klondike Gold Corp. (Coordinates: ).
- Scribner Creek Mine, 33 miles Southeast of Dawson City at the confluence of Scribner Creek and the Indian River. Leased from Tony Beets' company, Tamarack, Inc. (Coordinates: ).
- Eureka Creek Mine, 30 miles SSE of Dawson City at the confluence of Eureka Creek and the Indian River. Owned by Tamarack, Inc. (Coordinates: ).
- The Jungle, near Mahdia, Guyana, South America on the Potaro River
- Q.O.D. Claim (Coordinates [approx.] )
- Maple Creek Cut, claim-jumped prior to Season 4
- Patience Creek Cut
- Redemption Creek Cut
- Hope Creek Cut
- Baker County, 18 miles SSW of Baker City on west bench of Pine Creek
- High Bar Mine (Coordinates: ).
As of its first season finale, Gold Rush Alaska was the most-watched Friday night program in all of US television among males 18–49 and 25–54. For 13 consecutive weeks in its second season, Gold Rush continued to hold Friday's top rating in the demographic of men 18–49.