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Rockhounding Adventures in Utah – Topaz, Geodes, and More

While most of us, barring those who live in the state, might not think about Utah as a rockhound paradise. If you’re looking to visit a state with a diverse amount of minerals there are only a few that even compare to the glorious amount of crystals, fossils, and stones you’ll be able to pull from the earth in Utah.

rockhounding in Utah

Geode collected in San Juan County, Utah.

 

Gem-Quality Topaz

 

Topaz can be found, appropriately enough, at Topaz Mountain in Utah. While recent developments have, unfortunately, laid claim to a huge amount of the area you can still purchase a permit or work in those areas which aren’t covered.

There’s a lot of clear topaz practically littering the ground in this area, and if you’re looking for the more familiar amber-hued gem then you’re not going to be disappointed. Keep a sharp eye out, as the darker stones are quite often passed over by those who don’t really know stones.

The crystals are formed beneath the surface, and the best place to search is through shrubbery that tends to grow in the cracks to the formation below. Poke around a bit, and you’re sure to find something amazing to add to your collection.

Hard work pays off here. Take your time and do some digging to find topaz crystals that others have missed. Utah topaz is a highly prized mineral and worth the effort to dig for.

 

Quartz Geodes

 

If you visit the Dugway Geode Beds in Juab County you’re sure to find some of the stones. These geodes are typically hollow and lined with massive banded quartz. Among the varieties found here are rock crystal, rose quartz, and even amethyst.

Your best bet is to walk a mile or two north of the turnoff to the geode beds. It can be easy to miss, and there isn’t always a sign in place so keep your phone’s GPS handy on your trip.

Once you’re there, you’ll find soft, unconsolidated soil that can be dug through. Finding the geodes is easy enough if you know what to look for: they’ll be roughly spherical and much lighter than a stone of their size would normally seem.

Fragments can also be found if you keep a sharp eye out. Give it a shot, and if you have a friend with a slab saw you might just have found some fantastic new display pieces.


 

Obsidian

 

Obsidian can be found in the Black Rock Desert in Millard County. This stone has a long history, and those who are familiar with it absolutely love it. The deep black isn’t matched by much else in nature, and the stone is great for those who like to engage in some lapidary artistry.

There’s a few different varieties found in the Black Rock Desert. There’s the usual variation, which is a deep, glossy black and you can also find specimens ranging from red to brown if you keep an eye out. Undoubtedly, however, the most prized specimens you’ll be able to find here are snowflake obsidian.

Snowflake obsidian is the usual black associated with the stone, but bears white crystalline formations in impressive patterns. It’s highly sought after in some corners and it’s fantastic to look at.

The best part is that you can usually get away without having to dig out here. Just follow the map and go look around, you’re sure to find a few pieces that will look great in your collection or make suitable materials for lapidary uses or knapping without having to engage in any back-breaking labor.


 

Marble

 

If you’re a fan of massive stone, then you’re in luck on your trip to Utah. Birdseye marble can be found in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

The marble can be found along roadsides throughout the area, but your best bet is to head up to the old quarry. Here you’ll be able to find massive pieces of the stuff.

In addition to being an attractive stone, you’ll also find that in much of this marble there are ancient snail shells. These have been replaced with calcite and adds a unique visual element to the marble that can’t really be found anywhere else.

Also Read: 7 Beautifully Haunting Ghost Towns in Utah

And: The White Cliffs Gold Mine in Utah

 

Rockhounding in Utah

 

It’s definitely worth a trip to do some rockhounding in Utah. In addition to the huge variety of stones which can be found, you’ll also find that the laws are great for rockhounds. There is plenty of public land open to rock collecting and the only thing to really watch out for is collecting on private claims, so make sure you see where those lie before you head out into a new area.

The sheer variety of stones in the state is quite impressive, ranging from gems to minerals to massive stone formations. You might end up with a shelf in your cabinet devoted entirely to minerals from Utah if you get lucky on your trip, and it’s definitely something you should consider.

Gold Panning in Utah


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