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Utah is among the best states to rockhound in the U.S. This is because of its extreme diversity in rocks, minerals, gemstones, crystals, and fossils that you can find, and its various rockhounding sites.
In Utah, you can find gold, diamonds, opals, geodes, jade, jasper, obsidian, megalodon teeth, garnets, malachite, selenite, topaz, and several other specimens. Some of the best rockhounding sites are the Topaz Mountain, Dugway Geode Beds, and, in general, the old mining dumps and rocky outcrops.
The brilliant part about Utah is that there are plenty of rockhounding sites available throughout the state. The gravels of streams draw, and washes contain various noteworthy collectible specimens that enthusiasts can enjoy. But let’s see where exactly you can rockhound in Utah.
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Where Can I Go Rockhounding in Utah?
Utah is nicknamed the rockhounding capital of the U.S.A. Its southern areas are part of the famous Colorado Plateau, while central Utah yields unique rockhounding locations offering the most concentrated diversity of specimens.
Rock collecting is permitted on the majority of public lands, but, always research in advance, be aware of boundaries, and ask permission where needed, as, in some areas, you will need a permit first. Learn more about the rules and regulations for rockhounding in Utah here.
Best Rockhounding Places in Utah
The best rockhounding places in Utah include Marysvale, Topaz Dome Quarry, Dugway Geode Beds, Moses Rock & Comb Ridge, San Rafael River, Agate Town, Sunstone Knoll, Hanksville, Great Salt Lake, and Black Rock, among many others. Every corner of the state has something unique to offer.
Let’s take a look at some of the best locations for rockhounding in Utah in different areas, and see what you can find!
Box Elder County
In the northwestern corner of Utah, lays Box Elder County. Several hot spots are situated in this county, making it one of the best sites to rockhound in northwestern Utah.
Here, you can go to the Vipont Mine, Crater Island, Great Salt Lake, Grouse Creek, Birch Creek, Pilot Range, Raft River Mountains, Promontory Point, Promontory Mountains, Snowville, or Willard.
In these areas of Box Elder County, you can find various specimens of rocks, minerals, crystals, gemstones, and fossils.
Some of the things that you can find include azurite, copper, chalcopyrite, cuprite, galena, malachite, rhodochrosite, sphalerite, quartz, aragonite, halite, kyanite, wulfenite, pyrite, gold, obsidian, muscovite, and various other specimens!
In Western Utah, one of the best rockhounding locations is Juab County. Here, you can go to the Deep Creek Mountains, Drum Mountains, Desert Mountain, Dugway Range, Fish Springs, Thomas Range, Spor Mountain, Topaz Quarry Dome, or Tintic Mountains, among other places.
You can find topaz, beryl, gold, malachite, azurite, galena, pyrite, limonite, quartz, pyrite, chalcopyrite, garnet, sphalerite, agates, opals, jasper, bertrandite, and various other minerals, crystals, gemstones, and rocks!
Some other concentrated areas in western Utah include Sanpete County, Millard County, and Sevier County. Each of these has several rockhounding locations nearby and unique specimens to gather!
If you are lucky to go to Southern Utah, make sure to visit Beaver County. It contains some of the best southern rockhounding locations, with endless minerals, rocks, gemstones, crystals, and fossils that can be collected.
Some of the places to go in Beaver County include Blue Valley, Beaver Lake, Bradshaw Mountains, Horn Silver Mine, Frisco, Lincoln Gulch, Wah Wah Mountains, Cactus Mine, Rocky Range, San Francisco Mountains, or the area mines in Star Range, among others.
In these regions, you can find black blue-banded agates, azurite, malachite, jasper, pyrite, brucite, amethyst, anglesite, galena, sphalerite, barite, gypsum, opals, wulfenite, zircon, tourmaline, garnet, alunite, quartz, topaz, wollastonite, magnetite, and many other things.
If you can’t go to Beaver County in southern Utah, you might choose Garfield County, Iron County, Kane County, Piute County, or San Juan County since they also contain lots of rockhounding locations.
One of the best locations for rockhounding in Northeastern Utah is Grand County. Here, you have various hotspots for collecting rocks.
Some examples are the Agate town, Colorado River, The Needles, Miner’s Basin, Salt Valley, Sevenmile Canyon, Thompson Springs, and Bald Mesa, among others.
In these regions, you can find agates, chert, jasper, opals, quartz crystals, opalized wood, gold, dinosaur bones, barite, calcite, petrified wood, azurite, selenium, agatized clams, malachite, chalcopyrite, silicified dinosaur bones, and many other things!
Suppose you can’t go to Grand County in northeastern Utah. In that case, you can also head to Summit County, Daggett County, Duchesne County, Uintah County, or Emery County, as they also have various areas for a rock collection.
TIP: A lot of people divide gemstones into precious and semi-precious ones. Do you know what the difference is? Find out the difference and explanation of these two terms in the article below:
What Rocks Are Found in Utah?
The most popular rocks you can find in Utah include geodes (chalcedony geodes or blue banded ones among other types), wonderstone, thundereggs, obsidian, chert, agates (also plume agates or black with blue bands, and moss agates), and even meteorites.
|Geodes||Dugway Geode Beds, Simpson Springs, Glenwood|
|Obsidian||Black Rock, Promontory Point,|
|Chert||Fairfield, San Rafael Swell, Agate Town|
|Agate||Agate Town, Hanksville, San Rafael River|
Probably among the most famous rockhounding locations in the U.S., especially for finding geodes, is the Dugway Geode Beds, in western Utah. Here, an abundance of geodes, but also quartz and amethyst crystals, can be found.
The area draws and washes of Simpson Spring is another excellent location to find geodes in Utah. In Sevier County, western Utah, you can go to the northeastern area of Glenwood to find chalcedony geodes.
In Southern Utah, head towards Iron County to find chalcedony geodes in the area washes and draws of Newcastle. Chalcedony and blue-banded geodes can also be found in Washington county, in Central, at the nodules in the basalt exposures.
The best place to find snowflake obsidian in Utah is at Black Rock, Millard County, in western Utah, in the area washes and draws. Another great place is the Promontory Point, Salt Lake Area, in the area washes, draws, and surfaces.
When it comes to finding chert in Utah, it’s even easier! The area washes and draws of Fairfield, Utah County, is an excellent spot where you can also find fossils.
The east side of San Rafael Swell in Emery County, northeastern Utah, is also a great place, along with Agate town, in Grand County or the Colorado River.
In Tooele County, you can find agates at the Clifton or Dugway mining district. The Sweet Water Canyon, southwest of Bonanza in Uintah County, northeastern Utah, is also an excellent place to find agates. However, Emery County and Grand County are the best places to find agates in Utah.
In Emery County, you can head to Castle Dale, Cedar Mountain, San Rafael Swell, Morrison Formation, or San Rafael River to find agates.
In Grand County, you have the Agate town, Colorado River, and Thompson Springs. Plume agates are found in Juab County, in the area draws and washes of Jericho, western Utah.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Where to Find Cool Rocks in Utah?
The coolest rocks, that you can find in Utah, include black agates, wonderstone, thundereggs, or even meteorites. Though Utah is rich in beautiful stones and rocks, these rare specimens can be found in a few places, or even in the same area of the state.
Black blue-banded agates are found in Beaver County, at the Blue Valley, in the washes and draws, while moss agates in Iron County, near Cedar City. Both locations are in southern Utah.
When it comes to finding wonderstones in Utah, your best bet is at the Vernon Hills, in Tooele County, or at the Wonderstone Quarry. Surprisingly, one of the best places to find thundereggs in Utah is at the Dugway Geode Beds.
Meteorites were found in Utah on a couple of occasions. However, they are quite rare. Nonetheless, places such as Salt Lake City, Ioka, Park City, Drum Mountains, or Poison Spring are just some locations where meteorites were previously found.
TIP: Utah is full of cool rocks like wonderstones or blue agates. Do you know what other cool rocks are and where to find them? Check out the article below and find more about cool rocks:
What Gemstones Are Found in Utah?
Utah is rich in its gemstone variety. Some of the most precious gems that you can find in Utah include opal, turquoise, topaz, amethyst, diamonds, jade, jasper, azurite, malachite, pyrite, red beryl (bixbite), scheelite, or carnelian, among many others.
|Opal||Gold Hill, Clifton mining district, Agate town, Colorado River|
|Turquoise||Salt Lake County, Bingham Canyon Mine, Oquirrh Mountain|
|Topaz||Topaz Dome Quarry, Dugway mining district, Thomas Range|
|Amethyst||Dugway Range, Dugway Mining District, San Rafael Swell|
|Jasper||San Rafael River, Agate Town, Hanksville|
|Azurite||Vipont Mine, Pilot Range, Little Bear River|
|Malachite||Promontory Mountains, Bear River Range, Ogden|
|Pyrite||Crater Island, Raft River Mountains, Little Cottonwood|
|Red Beryl (bixbite)||Topaz Dome Quarry|
To find opals in Utah, you need to head towards Marysvale. In Tooele County, at Clifton mining district, or at Gold Hill, in the area mines, you can also find opal.
In Grand County, you can find opal on the area surfaces of Agate town or head towards the Colorado River. Thomas Range, Fish Lake, Horn Silver Mine, and Lincoln Gulch are also great areas to find opals in Utah.
When it comes to finding turquoise in Utah, head towards the Oquirrh Mountains, Bingham Canyon Mine, Bingham Mining District, Salt Lake County.
In Tooele County, you can find topaz. However, western Utah is the most abundant in it. You can find topaz in Juab County, at the general area surrounding Dugway Range, the north side of Thomas Range, or at the Topaz Dome Quarry. The area mines in the Wah Wah Mountains are also an excellent place to find topaz in Utah.
Finding amethyst in Utah is also relatively simple. The eastern side of San Rafael Swell, Dugway Mining District, Dugway Range at the Dugway Pass, or the area mines near Lincoln Gulch, and Bradshaw mountains, are abundant in amethyst.
Diamonds are sadly rarely discovered in Utah, and the same goes for jade. These precious gemstones are not so often unearthed in the rockhounding capital of the U.S.A.
Jasper, on the other hand, can be found throughout the state of Utah. Some of the best places to find it include the San Rafael River, Sweet Water Canyon, or the area mines in East Erickson Mining District.
If you want to find azurite in Utah, head towards the Vipont Mine in Box Elder County. The mines in the Lucin area, near Pilot Range, also contain azurite. Some other great places to find azurite include Willard, Little Bear River, and Swan Creek.
Malachite is also a common gemstone in Utah. It can easily be found throughout the state. The area mines near the Promontory Mountains, the general area of Mineral Point, Bear River Range, and the area gravels and washes of Smithfield are just some of the many locations where you can find it.
Pyrite is also found at Vipont Mine, Pilot Range, or the area mines in Raft River Mountains. The area mines of the Promontory Mountains are also abundant in it.
Something even rarer than diamonds and native to Utah is the precious gemstone red beryl, also known as bixbite. It can only be found at the Topaz Dome Quarry, Juab County, western Utah.
TIP: Do you like rock tumbling? Kids love it! Starting a rock tumbling from an early age is a great idea. Check out the best rock tumblers for kids in the article below:
What Crystals Can You Find in Utah?
Utah is rich in its crystal variety. Some of the most popular crystals that you can find here include quartz crystals, wulfenite, selenite, fluorite, halite, pyrolusite, calcite, manganite, actinolite, chrysocolla, anhydrite, amethyst crystals, orpiment crystals, and dolomite, among many others.
|Quartz Crystals||Dugway Range, Ophir, Colorado River|
|Fluorite||Topaz Dome Quarry, Dutch Mountain, Miner’s Basin|
|Selenite||San Rafael River, Rock Candy Mountain, Cactus mine|
Finding quartz crystals in Utah is not so hard. At the Dugway Pass, in the Dugway Range, you can find plenty of them! The area mines near Ophir are also abundant in quartz crystals.
In Agate town, or near bars close to Moab, Colorado River, or the north side of Thomas Range, are also excellent locations to find quartz in Utah.
Fluorite crystals can be found at the Dugway mining district, in the area mines. The Dutch Mountain is also filled with them. The area mines near Miner’s Basin, Deep Creek Mountains, Desert Mountain, or Fish Springs are also great locations.
When it comes to finding selenite in Utah, things are also relatively easy. South of a highway, near San Rafael River, or the northeastern area of Glenwood, are some great starting locations! In Sigurd, or at the Rock Candy Mountain and Cactus Mine, selenite is also present.
TIP: Selenites are often found in Utah. But when you want to buy selenite on the internet you can find a lot of fake ones. Find out the difference between real and fake selenite in the article below:
What Minerals Are Found in Utah?
Just as with gems and crystals, Utah has an amazing variety of minerals spread throughout its territory. Some awesome minerals that you can find in Utah include gold, quartz, garnets, galena, gypsum, zircon, tourmaline, wollastonite, stilbite, epidote, magnetite, barite, and many others.
|Gold||Vipont Mine, Raft River Mountains, Promontory Mountains|
|Quartz||Mineral Point, Antelope Island, Alta|
|Garnet||Moses Rock & Comb Ridge, Strongs Canyon, Bingham Canyon|
Gold is quite easy to find in Utah, being present throughout the state. Near Salt Lake, you can go to Vipont Mine, Raft River Mountains, or Promontory Mountains to find it.
The Strawberry mine in Morgan County, Farmington Mining District in Davis County, or in placer sands in Bear Gulch are some great locations to find gold in Utah, among many others.
The various area mines in Alta, Salt Lake County, are an excellent place to find quartz. The general area of Antelope Island, or Mineral Point, is also abundant in quartz. The area near Little Cottonwood or the Dugway Pass is also well worth the trip!
Garnets are also quite common in Utah. You can find beautiful pyrope garnets at the Moses Rock & Comb Ridge. In Weber County, head towards Strong Canyon, or search the large open-pit mines in Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake County, for garnets.
As a bonus, let’s talk about petrified wood! The area around Hanksville is great for finding petrified wood in Utah. The eastern side of San Rafael Swell, or the surrounding area of Thompson Springs, is also abundant in petrified wood.
What Kind of Fossils Are Found in Utah?
Various fossils are found throughout Utah, with a special emphasis on dinosaur bones. The area washes and draws of Fairfield, Utah County, or the area limestone outcrops of Hurricane, in Washington County, are especially filled with fossils. Plant fossils and cephalopods are also common.
Around Factory Butte, in Wayne County, various shark teeth fossils were discovered. Some of them belong to ancient species. However, no megalodon teeth were reported in this state.
Where to Find Arrowheads in Utah?
In Utah’s Range Creek, various artifacts, including arrowheads were found. Lake Bonneville might also seem like a good idea to try and find arrowheads in the sand. The mountains around Salt Lake City also contain arrowheads.
TIP: Amber is a really beautiful and rare gemstone. Do you know how valuable amber can be? Find out the answer in the article below:
FAQ About Rockhounding in Utah
Sill did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in Utah? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
What Is Utah’s State Rock?
The officially designated state rock of Utah is coal since 1991. Most of the coal present in the state is bituminous coal, and it is found in 17 out of the 29 counties located in Utah. The Emery and Carbon Counties are mainly responsible for coal mining operations.
What Is The State Gemstone of Utah?
The official state gemstone of Utah is topaz since 1969. It is a semiprecious gemstone, and in some areas of Utah, such as Topaz Mountain, it occurs as crystals. It has a Mohs scale hardness of 8, and comes in colors such as amber, light brown, gold, and turns colorless when exposed to sunlight.
Utah is definitely a must-visit state for any rockhounding enthusiasts. The variety of rocks, crystals, minerals, gemstones, and fossils here is simply unbelievable.
This also stands true when it comes to the various locations where rock collectors can enjoy their hobby in peace.
TIP: Did you know that rocks can explode then heated? Yes, it is possible! Find out what rocks explode and why in the article below: