A reconnaissance of the Bear Valley district was undertaken to provide a geologic interpretation of placer deposits drilled by the U.S. Bureau of Mines. The placer minerals are monazite and a group of uranium bearing rare earth columbates and tantalates here referred to loosely as radioactive blacks. The monazite is an accessory mineral in the granitic country rock; the radioactive blacks occur in pegmatite dikes. The supply of these minerals to the placers was controlled (1) by the geography of their occurrence in the parent rock, and (2) by the distribution of alpine glaciers during two late Pleistocene glacial stages. By reason of a favorable combination of these factors, the richest placer deposits of the district are in Big Meadow, a valley fill formed as a result of the blocking of Bear Creek by a glacier from a tributary valley during the Illinoian (?) stage. The Big Meadow fill consists of intertonguing depositional units formed by Bear Creek and its tributaries, including both normal alluvium and glacial outwash, and ranging from rich to barren. The richest phase that has been blocked out by drilling was derived from the drainage basin of Casner Creek, an east tributary of Bear Creek. The geologic relations suggest that a neighboring stream, Howard Creek, should have supplied equally rich material, but the part of the valley fill formed by Howard Creek has not been tested. The Howard Creek deposits and shallow alluvium in the upper valleys of Casner and Howard Creeks may considerably increase the reserves of the district.