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Forrest Fenn’s $1 million treasure that he hid more than a decade ago has been found ending a chase pursued by hundreds of thousands of people.

Forrest Fenn looking at his treasure after it was found by Jack Stuef
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I wrote about the Forrest Fenn treasure back in 2015 and even discussed some of the details with Forrest himself but even I was not really sure it was more than a hoax. Today however, we know the story is real. The famed art and antiquities collector has confirmed that a treasure hunter “from the East” has found the $1 million treasure he hid in 2010.

Fenn did not reveal where the treasure was found, only that it was found in the wilderness in the Rocky Mountains “a few days ago”. The treasure was confirmed by Fenn through a photograph the man sent him.

The lockbox Fenn filled with treasure is a treasure itself – it dates to about 1150 AD. It measures 10x10x5, weighs 42 pounds (including its contents), and is constructed of ancient bronze. Fenn filled the box with gold nuggets (hundreds, some as large as a chicken egg), 265 gold coins (mostly American eagles and double eagles), rare coins, pre-Columbian gold animal figures, jewelry (including a Spanish 17th century gold-and-emerald ring and a bracelet with turquoise beads excavated in 1898 from Mesa Verde which Fenn says he would like back if the treasure is found while he is still alive), and gemstones – hundreds of rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and two Ceylon sapphires. Oh, and a 20,000 word autobiography sealed in a glass jar.

The Finder, revealed to be medical student and former journalist, Jack Stuef, said it took him 25 days to locate the treasure in one specific area.

He claimed to have solved the riddle in 2018, but it still took him another two years to locate the actual chest.

“This treasure hunt was the most frustrating experience of my life. There were a few times when I, exhausted, covered in scratches and bites and sweat and pine pitch, and nearing the end of my day’s water supply, sat down on a downed tree and just cried alone in the woods in sheer frustration.”

It is estimated that more than 350,000 people have searched for the treasure. Some quit their jobs to do so. Some died trying to find it.

The original Forrest Fenn poem with clues to the treasure’s location

Below is the full text of the Forrest Fenn hidden treasure poem. In the poem, there are nine clues, likely in chronological order. You can read more about Forrest Fenn’s fabled treasure here.

As I have gone alone in there

And with my treasures bold,

I can keep my secret where,

And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt

And take it in the canyon down,

Not far, but too far to walk.

Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is ever drawing nigh;

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go

And leave my trove for all to seek?

The answers I already know,

I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold.

The discovery of Forrest Fenn’s treasure – Finally, the solution to Forrest Fenn’s riddle

In December 2020, Jack Stuef, a medical student from Michigan, shared that he discovered Fenn’s treasure chest. For safety reasons, Stuef chose to keep his identity hidden, but it was anticipated that a lawsuit might expose him.

Stuef explained that it took him a full 25 days of searching in a specific area to find the treasure. Although he deciphered the puzzle in 2018, it took him an additional two years to actually locate the chest.

Stuef also disclosed that two small items, which were mentioned in the publicized information about the discovery, were missing from the chest. These items were a gold frog necklace and a Spanish emerald ring discovered at San Lazaro. When Stuef notified Forrest about the missing items, Forrest was able to find the frog in his collection and gave it to Stuef. However, he was unable to locate the missing emerald ring.

Fenn knew people were clambering for the solution and convinced Steuf to allow the reveal. But it never came. After his death, Fenn’s lawyer revealed that Fenn told Yellowstone National Park’s chief ranger, Sarah Davis, where the treasure was hidden. This conversation took place in 2020 after the treasure was found by Stuef. Fenn told Davis where he hid the treasure so that she could check if the area could handle more visitors who wanted to see the treasure’s former location. Davis concluded that the area couldn’t handle a large number of people, so they agreed to keep the treasure’s location a secret.

Fortunately, enough evidence has been found from related lawsuits, freedom of information requests (FOIAs), and online message boards to confirm that the treasure was found in Yellowstone National Park at Forrest’s favorite fishing spot, Nine Mile Hole. In fact, through a lot of determined searching, someone found the exact location.

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How do we know the real location was found? When Jack Stuef found the treasure, he quickly took a picture before more carefully examining its contents. Here is the picture he took of the undisturbed treasure chest and its contents.

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The opened treasure chest. Photo taken by Jack Stuef.

According to Jack, at first he did not notice the stick sitting on top.

“I took those photos at the spot […]. I didn’t notice the twig until after I pressed the button to take the photo, then tossed it aside […]”

Remarkably, the stick in the treasure chest photo was later found, confirming that the treasure was located at Forrest Fenn’s favorite fishing spot – Nine Mile Hole.

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The Forrest Fenn Treasure Solution (GPS 44.647427, -110.938744)

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Many searchers have confirmed the precise location on Facebook, Reddit, and message boards. Several confirmed after visiting the spot themselves. (44.647673,-110.939161). To reach the treasure, you must cross the Madison River at Nine Mile Hole. The photo below was taken near the treasure’s location and shows what the river and road beyond it look like after crossing.

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Forrest Fenn’s puzzle is re-printed below with comments regarding how the “clue” related to the treasure’s location. In hindsight, the solution was so simple.

As I have gone alone in there

And with my treasures bold,

I can keep my secret where,

And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt

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Firehole River is located in northwestern Wyoming. It joins Gibbon River at the Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park where it becomes the Madison River.

And take it in the canyon down,

MadisonCanyon2
Madison River exits Firehole Canyon and becomes Madison Canyon.

Not far, but too far to walk.

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It is four miles from the Madison Junction to the treasure. Even better, there’s a pullout by the river which makes driving/parking a no-brainer.

Put in below the home of Brown.

cross
This part of the river is the notorious Brown Trout Honey Hole, a location where record-breaking trout have been caught.

From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is ever drawing nigh;

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

5K7A6698.CR3
The only way across is to wade through the river.

Just heavy loads and water high.

5K7A6699.CR3 1
“Heavy loads” in river talk refers to sediment buildup. There’s no heavier load than all the huge boulders at this section of the river.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

5K7A6675.CR3
The “Blaze” is still somewhat of a mystery. Some believe there could have been a distinct marker (e.g. horseshoe) at the location at some point that was later removed by someone who had no idea what it was. Others however, believe the “blaze” mentioned by Forrest Fenn is the oddly bent fallen tree that partially covered the treasure chest.

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

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The chest was located in that square cleared area, partially underneath the fallen tree.

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Just take the chest and go in peace.

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On the left is a photo of the treasure taken by Jack Stuef as it was uncovered. The photo on the right shows the same area a few years later.

So why is it that I must go

And leave my trove for all to seek?

The answers I already know,

I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold.

first photos of forrest fenn treasure

Forrest Fenn treasure auction

Forrest Fenn’s treasure was auctioned off in December 2022. 476 artifacts in the collection were sold, and a total of 1,643 people placed bids for a piece of the fortune. A 549-gram Alaskan gold nugget brought in the most cash, with the highest bidder taking it home for $55,200. The next highest price was for a wax-sealed glass jar purportedly containing Fenn’s 20,000-word autobiography, which went for $48,000. In total, the sale generated $1,307,946.

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