Located near the city of Delta in northeastern Utah, the Trilobyte Me! Quarry has a lot to offer fossil hunters of all ages.
So, it’s no surprise that fossil hunting is a significant part of the area’s economy and a major tourist attraction.
The tips listed below should help you plan a rewarding and memorable adventure.
Trilobyte Me! Quarry (Utah)
1. About the location – Trilobites are the rock stars of fossils and nine species have been identified at Trilobyte Me! Quarry.
This location is the richest source of trilobites on the planet.
Millions of trilobites have been unearthed by both professionals and amateurs since the quarry first opened in 1969.
Today, the quarry is owned and operated by High Desert Gems & Minerals.
2. How to get there – About 50 miles due west of Delta, the quarry is off a well-maintained gravel road.
A four-wheel drive is not necessary, but a spare tire is advisable.
GPS or the internet might get you lost since there isn’t a physical address for the quarry and signals can be spotty. We suggest these directions:
- From Nevada, take Hwy 50 at the state border and drive 56 miles into Utah.
- From Delta, take Hwy 50/6 and drive west for 29 miles.
- On Hwy 50/ 6 at mile marker 56, take a half turn onto a dirt road known as Long Ridge Reservoir Road.
- Once you see a sign for U-Dig Fossils, you’ll need to reset your odometer.
- Continue over the cattle guard for 4.9 miles (on your reset odometer) to another cattle guard.
- Continue for another 6.3 miles but drive slowly since the roads are tightly curved from this point on.
- After 10.1 miles, you’ll see an intersection sign for Margum Pass.
- At 15.0 miles there’s a sign for Swasey Spring.
- At 18.8 miles you’ll see a sign for U-Dig and Death Canyon. Stay on this road which bears right.
- At 18.9 miles, take an immediate right turn into the driveway of Trilobyte Me! Quarry.
- Parking and camping at the site are free. Cars continue through the gate, and RVs and trailers park before the gate.
3. Hours of operation & contact information – The quarry is open daily from April 1st to October 10th and reservations are not required.
Off-season digging is available by appointment. Call or text Chris Rose at (775)772-7724 or Jessica Schenk at (775) 830-5797, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Where to stay – Camping and RV accommodation are free at the quarry, which is pet-friendly (leashes are required).
Do bring an ample supply of food and water. There are other accommodations near the city of Delta, such as the Rancher Motel (435-864-274), Delta Inn Motel (435-864-5318), Days Inn (435-864-3882), and Antelope Valley RV Park (800-430-0022).
5. What to wear – Keep in mind that the region has a cold desert climate: hot summers, cold winters, and radical temperature changes after sunset.
The altitude and dryness can also be uncomfortable. Plan accordingly and be prepared for wind or rain any time of year.
Sturdy shoes or boots, and a good supply of water and snacks are advisable. Dressing in warm, comfortable layers is always a good idea.
6. What to bring – Five-gallon plastic buckets (like those used in construction), heavy-duty gloves (gardening gloves will do), safety glasses or goggles, sunscreen, and bug spray for bug-infested ore piles are the basics.
Loaner tools are available (contact site for details). We suggest bringing a crowbar and pickaxe to remove and split large sections of shale; a geological hammer for breaking and splitting smaller sections; and a cold chisel for splitting more stubborn layers.
Also, bring a screen or sieve (similar to what a prospector might use) to go through fine material.
7. Pricing & packages – Payment options include cash, check, credit, or debit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express are accepted).
The following packages are offered:
Basic Trilobite Collecting: Split the shale or screen dirt for shale to find matrix specimens or loose trilobites.
7yrs/ under Free
Quarry Bank Digging: Dig and split shale using hand tools in freshly exposed trilobite-bearing shale layers.
7yrs/ under Free
High-End Quarry Bank Digging: Our exclusive digging area is typically reserved for commercial trilobite operations.
10yrs/ under free with paying adult
‘Trilobite-infested’ Ore Pile: Trilobite-rich shale (shale that contains clusters of fossils) is dug up by our machinery and piled up for you to sort through.
The price includes the whole family.
High-Grade ‘Trilobite Swarm’ Ore Pile: Trilobites typically lived close to each other. When prey that was larger than a single trilobite could manage, they swarmed (like bees) to take down their prey. For your convenience, our commercial swarm-bearing shale is dug up by machinery and put in a pile for easier sorting.
The price includes the whole family.
Specials: Buy five digs get one free.
Group rates, active military, and service personnel rates are available.
8. What you can expect to find – Let’s talk about the trilobite so you’ll be able to identify your specimens.
The body is divided into parts: the head or cephalon; the torso or thorax; and the tail or pygidium.
The iconic Elrathia kingi is the most common trilobite species at the Trilobyte Me! Quarry and is commercially quarried for novelty items such as jewelry or sold to collectors and museums, globally.
But there are eight other species of trilobites that have been identified.
There are also many other types of fossils such as bivalves, brachiopods, jellyfish, and sponges.
You may even find a previously unidentified soft body fossil since several have been unearthed at our quarry.
We recommend that you bring an identification sheet (widely available on the internet), or a notebook to identify and record your specimens.
9. How to extract the fossils – To collect trilobite fossils you will be hammering and splitting shale sections – not too aggressively since the specimens are fragile.
There is a particular technique for splitting shale; as with most things, practice makes perfect.
So, take advantage of the ubiquitous shale fragments if you’re a novice.
Since shale is a sedimentary rock, it’s relatively soft as rocks go and should split without a lot of effort.
Using a geological hammer or cold chisel, strike the shale in the direction of the splits (between the layers).
10. How to process them – Trilobite fossils often blend with the color of their matrix stone or are obscured by hardened silt.
If you want the details and color to pop, we suggest polishing the specimens with a wire wheel or a Dremel tool.
Contrary to what you might expect, the specimens are not damaged by polishing.
Similar to gemstones after they’re tumbled, polishing your specimens will bring out their beauty and detail.
Trilobyte Me! Quarry has countless deposits to explore and packages to fit your budget and skill level. For fans of this iconic fossil, a trip to this site is an adventure you won’t want to miss.
You might also like:
- How To Identify Coprolite
- Characteristics of Sedimentary Rocks
- Is a Dinosaur Fossil Living or Non-Living?
- How Long Does It Take Fossil Fuels To Form?
- Do Metamorphic Rocks Have Fossils?
- Why Have So Few Fossils Been Found in Antarctica?
- Fossil Hunting Tools For Beginners
- Fossil Hunting Oregon (Wheeler High School)
- 20 Facts About Fossils
- 4 Rocks That Contain Fossils