Utah Rockhounding
Topaz Mountain & U-Dig-Em trilobite quarry
September 2006
Kevin Dunlap

First trip report, you WILL bear with me, lol.

Well in August, I was sent back out to Dugway, Utah whose motto is “This may not be the middle of nowhere……but you can see it from here!”. I was going to be here for three months and had decided to make the best of it and try and rock hound in all the best locations. I had been here before, so I knew a couple of places so I set out and researched a couple of more.

Now before I go any further, let me explain. I work for a contractor that does Testing for the Army. Back in April I was sent TDY to Fayetteville, North Carolina. Through McRocks I was able to find out about a place that allows you to dig pyrite, but only for 4 hours, 2 days a year. Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only was I going to be there during that time, but was actually going to be off and able to go. (There is a long, good story about how to read a N.C. map, but that is for another post). Anyway, I told all my co-workers about it and some seemed interested in going. But as usual, when the day came to go, everyone was a no show. Well I went to the quarry, met some fellow rock nuts and found a ton of pyrite. It was an awesome time, although at one point there was some lightning in the area and I remember thinking “Being on top of thousands of pounds of Iron Pyrite, during a thunderstorm ain’t too smart.” I only thought that for a second or two though.

OK, on to Utah. Well when everyone saw how much Pyrite I found, they all wanted a piece. When I told them about some of the things to find in Utah, a lot of them wanted to go. So there I am, first available weekend to go rock collecting, 8:30 am, waiting in the parking lot for about 9 people (We were supposed to leave at 8:00 am). Everyone was a no show so I did what any self respecting rock hound would do, threw a hissy and went home. Lol. I was home for about 15 minutes when my girl friend and best Rock hounding buddy Ann, who I call Digger because when she is on the hunt for something she will dig halfway to China looking for it, told me to pull my head out and go alone. So I did!

The first place I went was Topaz Mountain. Actually that’s the only place I had planned on going that day. I found a likely spot and commenced to searching. Within a couple of hours I had found a fairly good collection of nice dark Topaz. I also found some rock I thought was some type of Calcite, which had a green glow under a SW light. (I really need to start learning how to identify what I find). Anyway, I decided to go ahead and call it a day and began the drive home. As I got back to highway 6, I thought maybe I could take a quick hop over to a place I had read about called U-Dig-Em trilobite quarry. I quickly discovered that “It ain’t no small hop”. It’s about 36 miles outside of Delta and another 20 something down a dirt road. When I got to the turnoff of highway 6/50 it said they close at 4pm if no one was there. I figured what the heck, if they were closed, I would pick up some slate that is in the dessert just before you get to the Quarry.




When I arrived it was after 5. Luckily, the guy who runs it, Bevin, was very nice. He suggested I look for some, and load up my truck with raw rock and look at a later time. I jumped on it and immediately found a seam that was just crawling with Trilobites (No pun intended). I found some decent specimens and then began just loading my truck with unchecked rocks. The intention was to take this home and look through it with Digger and her son Cody Krakatoa (He loves volcanoes). Well I got home and began cleaning my specimens. I have a lot of time on my hands and quickly finished and thought “Well ok, I’ll split just one.” 3 hours and a dozen rocks later I realized I would have to go back there the next weekend. Eventually I made 3 trips to U-Dig-Em, 2 to Topaz Mountain and 1 to the Dugway Geode beds and a small topaz mine very near the geode beds. I can not recommend any of these places higher. There is no way you can go to any of them and not leave with some very good specimens of each. When I load up the bed of my truck it will be completely full of Trilobites, Slate, Geodes and Shale full of Trilobites. There is also a very nice rock shop in Delta, Utah. The people are very friendly and it seems like they have a little of everything.



If anyone is interested in details on how to get to each and hints, feel free to contact me. Or I can write a detailed trip report if that would be better.