The Zeballos River flows south from its headwaters near Mook Peak to its mouth on Zeballos Inlet.
The Zeballos gold camp is underlain by an island arc sequence of basaltic to rhyolitic volcanic rocks of the Lower Jurassic Bonanza Group. Conformably underlying the Bonanza rocks are limestones and limy clastics of the Quatsino and Parson Bay formations, and tholeiitic basalts of the Karmutsen Formation, all belonging to the Upper Triassic Vancouver Group. Dioritic to granodioritic Early-Middle Jurassic plutons of the Zeballos intrusion phase of the Island Plutonic Suite have intruded all older rocks. The Eocene Zeballos stock, a quartz- diorite phase of the Tertiary Catface Intrusions, is spatially related to gold-quartz veins in the area. Bedded rocks are predominantly northwest- striking, southwest- dipping, and anticlinally folded about a northwest axis.
The placer gold is likely related to known lode gold deposits, such as the Privateer (MINFILE 092L 008) mine, to the southeast on Lukwa and Beano mountains and to the north west near Kaouk Mountain. It appears that most of the gold was derived from bars or in crevices in the bedrock of the river bed, or from benches along the side of the creek.
Some of the tributaries of the Zeballos River are also reported to carry placer gold. These include Spud, Gold Valley, Blacksand and Lime creeks.
Bulletin 21, from 1946, states that placer miners have worked the following rivers and streams of Vancouver Island: China and Loss creeks, and Leech, Gordon, Jordan, Sooke, Sombrio, San Juan, Bedwell, Nanaimo, Gold, and Zeballos rivers.
It is likely that the area was explored first by the Spanish in the late 1700’s. Later, by 1904, reports of placer gold were recorded from the Zeballos River and some of its tributaries.