Destinations, Kids

Utah Rockhounding Family Road Trip

June 3, 2013 by

Rockhunters in Utah

Looking for something a little different to do this summer with the kids? Consider a Rockhounding road trip to Utah. Kids like to collect things, and unlike stamps, coins or other collectibles, hunting for rocks, minerals and fossils is an active learning experience.

Utah’s Rockhounding Potential

Utah is an excellent destination for rock hounding. The state’s diverse terrain is home to numerous varieties of rare rocks, gemstones, and fossils. Kids enjoy collecting all three.

While Utah does have laws regulating rockhounding, rocks can be freely collected on most of the state’s public lands. In general, rock hunters are allowed to collect reasonable amounts of gemstones and rocks for personal use.

However, if you plan to use them for commercial use, you’ll have to obtain a permit first.



Where to Go Rockhounding in Utah

Different areas throughout Utah offer a diverse variety of interesting rocks. Where you go will influence what you find.

It will help to purchase a copy A Collector’s Guide to Rock, Mineral, and Fossil Localities of Utah by James R. Wilson along with a copy of Utah Byways: 65 Backcountry Drives For The Whole Family, including Moab, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, San Rafael Swell and Glen Canyon.

The second book not only includes information for rock hounds, but 60 trip ideas that include canyon lands, arches, and Capitol Reef National Parks. If your main objective is rock hounding, some of the best locations in Utah include:

Antelope Springs (Millard County)

If your kids are hoping to collect marine fossils (trilobite fossils), Antelope Springs is the place. Public and private quarries are available, but private quarries do charge a fee to dig. However, you’re almost guaranteed finding trilobites…a very rewarding experience for the kids. Fossils can also be found on the land surface in Antelope Springs.

Fossil Mountain

Another place to find trilobites is Fossil Mountain, which is located at the southern end of the Confusion Range in the western Utah desert. This site is rich with a variety of shells, and along with trilobites, other invertebrate fossils found here include brachiopods, cephalopods and echinoderms.

While the fossils are plentiful, if it is important that you find complete fossils, this is not the place for you to dig.

Sunstone Knoll

A visit to Sunstone Knoll offers an opportunity for rock hunters to add sunstones to their collection. These stones are the result of volcanic deposits of basaltic lava and volcanic breccia. Sunstone is a transparent, yellowish crystal found in the volcanic rocks on the flats around the knoll. You’ll need to register at the turnoff to enter this area.

Dugway Geode Beds (Juab County)

Rock hound kids will enjoy visiting the Dugway Geode Beds because the most commonly found mineral is quartz, and it comes in a variety of colors including: clear (rock crystal), purple (amethyst), and pink (rose). Any color is a real treasure to add to a rock collection.

Rock Collecting

Tools Needed

Pack up a shovel, pick, hammer, and safety glasses as you head out for your rock hounding expedition. Also, when heading to the site, bring plenty of water to drink to stay hydrated! Above all, have fun, and happy rock hunting.

Photo credits: summitcheese, jaja_1985, EOL Learning and Education Group

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