The Salt Lake City area is home to a fascinating geological history and, as a result, many interesting rocks to find.
Any rock collector, both experienced and just starting out, will be delighted by the rocks and minerals that they can discover.
Rockhounding Near Salt Lake City (Let’s Go)
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
The best locations for rockhounding near Salt Lake City are:
1. The Dugway Geode Beds
As the name might suggest, The Dugway Geode Beds are a place where you can find geodes.
These geodes are primarily made of different types of quartz.
This includes clear quartz, rose quartz, and amethyst.
Quartz is a hard crystalline silica.
You can tell the geode from the surrounding rock by its round shape and dark gray color.
Most likely, you will find them underground, so bring a shovel.
You may need a hammer and chisel to break apart the geodes, but it promises to be a great addition to any mineral collection.
The Dugway Geode Beds are located southeast of Salt Lake City.
There are private clams in the area, so make sure you stay on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
2. Vernon Hills
Vernon Hills, in Utah, is also public land under the Bureau of Land Management. In Vernon hills, there is Wonderstone Quarry.
This quarry contains (you guessed it) wonderstone.
Wonderstone is a kind of volcanic glass.
It is maroon with orange-yellow bands that were created by iron oxides in the stone and flowing water.
The wonderstone comes off in flakes.
Vernon Hills is just southwest of Salt Lake City.
Avoid taking from anyone else’s dig site or taking any stone from any marked private claims in the area.
This includes any area which has signs of recent digging.
A car with 4-wheel drive is recommended but not required to access the area.
3. Topaz Mountain
Just south of The Dugway Geode Beds, Topaz Mountain is a place where you can find a variety of minerals.
These include amethyst, garnet, hematite, opal, and Topaz.
Topaz, a yellowish or amber crystal, is the most common of these minerals on Topaz Mountain.
The site is free to access and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, just like the previous two.
There are paid tours of the area too, if that is what your interested in.
Topaz Mountain is in a remote area with no services, so bring what you need with you.
This will likely include a hammer and chisel for the best topaz sample.
A 4-wheel drive vehicle is needed to get to and around the site.
4. U-Dig Fossils
If fossils are more your thing, then we recommend U-Dig Fossils.
About 52 miles from Delta, Utah, U-Dig Fossils is a place you can go to dig up your own fossils.
The fossils that can be found there are trilobite fossils imprinted into limestone shale.
Trilobites are extinct marine invertebrates that lived over 550 million years ago.
Limestone shale is a type of sedimentary rock made from a compressed mixture of clay and silt.
Fossils of Brachiopods, sponges, worm tracks, and phylocarids can also be found.
It isn’t free like the sites earlier in the list, but for just $33, you can access the site for two hours and even have rockhounding equipment provided for you to use.
It is $49 for four hours and $90 per adult for eight.
5. Birdseye Marble Quarry
Birdeye Marble Quarry is about a 73-mile drive from Salt Lake City.
Here you will find an abandoned quarry on land managed by the National Forest Service.
Make sure to stay within the boundaries of the Maniti-La National Forest, and don’t go digging in the private land in the area.
Though the rock is technically limestone, the stone building industry considered it marble when the quarry was active.
Stone from this quarry is in the Utah State Capital Building, The Mormon Chappel in Washington D.C., and the Lincon Memorial, as well as other buildings.
It gets the name “birdseye” from the round shapes that formed on the rock.
These round shapes were created by algae that formed around debris and were then fossilized.
All the usual rockhounding equipment is needed to collect in this area.
6. Spiral Jetty
Spiral Jetty is on the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake.
Here gypsum can be found. Gypsum (sometimes called dirty diamonds) is a common sulfate mineral that is created from salt in evaporated water.
It is a cloudy white crystal that forms near salt lakes and salt flats.
Be sure to bring water-proof boots and containers with you, as you will need to go into the lake to find the non-broken crystals.
If you are feeling adventurous, the Golden Spike Connection, where the first transcontinental railroad was completed, is just 15.5 miles away from the jetty.
It would be almost easier to tell you what kind of mineral you can’t find in the area around the town of Marysvale.
Cinnabar, alunite, calcite, chlorite, fluorite, amethyst, quartz, selenite, opal, and other minerals can all be found in the area.
There is even a mining ghost town where these stones used to be mined.
These crystals are found in cavities in light or dark grey rhyolite.
A sledgehammer might be required to break apart the rhyolite to get to the gems in these cavities.
8. Park City Mining District
The Park City Mining District is home to many mines and dump sites, both active and abandoned.
Among veins of gold, silver, zinc, and lead, there are many different minerals and crystals.
These include barite, calcite, chlorite, epidote, galena, garnet, magnetite, sphalerite, spinal, tetrahedrite, cerussite, malachite, pyrite, quartz, and azurite.
All of this is near Park City Mountain Resort. Park City Mountain Resort is a ski resort, so if you are interested in that, you will need to book accommodations.
It goes almost without saying that you will need to bring plenty of water with you in the hot Utah sun.
Good luck to you on your hounding and happy digging.
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