No Utah rockhounding resource would be complete without a section about the beloved Topaz Mountain near Delta, Utah. Topaz Mountain is part of the Thomas Range which is a notable paradise for those looking for great specimens.
I will say beforehand that I would strongly recommend a high clearance vehicle for the last 1/2 mile to mile of the drive as you will be driving through a series of washes that can get pretty sketchy no matter the season you choose to go. Once you arrive at the destination, there are makeshift campsites all around the area and you will see lots of evidence of human activity all around.
Many minerals can be found here including topaz (obviously), garnet, amethyst, bixbite (red beryl), hematite, opal, and bixbyite. Red beryl is highly sought after as it is worth more than diamond per carat and is far more rare. I have been here more than a dozen times and only seen a few VERY tiny pieces of red beryl. Topaz is my favorite to go after from this area because it is both abundant and super fun to collect.
Most of the topaz from the area is either sherry or pink colored, but becomes clear after exposure to sunlight. If you are driving or walking around the area at the right times you should see the washes gleaming with numerous little pieces of clear topaz.
To get to the good stuff you are going to need a heavy duty sledge hammer and a selection of chisels. When you get to the topaz amphitheater, as they call it, you should see white rhyolite rock around on all sides (I placed the marker on the map right in the middle of the amphitheater). In this rhyolite you should see vugs/pockets (ranging from a few inches to a few feet) where you will find the topaz (ranging from a few millimeters to a few inches).
Use the sledge and chisels to uncover more and more vugs, but be extra careful once you hit a pocket as the topaz can be very fragile until it is extracted. You should hear your hammer make a different sound once you cracked into a pocket. At that point, many people will use a chopstick or a small screwdriver or something to poke around the cavity to see what they have uncovered. Don’t be alarmed if the vug is empty. This is very common. It takes time, but you will be rewarded immensely.
You may even come across a double specimen where you will find a topaz and red beryl or topaz and bixbyite combo. These are rare and I would definitely hold on to them. I have even found various fossils including trilobites in this area so I would be surprised if you went home empty handed.
It is wise to bring a headlamp as well to be able to see into the pockets as it might take some extra care to not fracture or break the topaz. I sometimes even like to go at night since any gems should reflect off the light from your headlamp and you can get a better idea of what you are up against. Many people have had a lot of success by simply going around and checking pockets that have already been exposed and seeing if anything has been uncovered and not claimed.
I am sorry I haven’t posted this yet, but I actually have an outline of where exactly you can find the different minerals I mentioned above all over this area, but I hope this helps you on your journey. Feel free to shoot me any questions. Thanks for reading!
Directions to Topaz Mountain:
From the intersection of 800 North and I-15 in Orem, Utah
1. Drive South on I-15 for 43.7 miles
2. Take Nephi exit 228 and keep right on Main Street (SW) for 2.7 miles
3. Turn Right (West) on W 100 North for 33.2 miles until you hit Highway 6
4. Turn left (South) on Highway 6 for 5.6 miles until you hit Brush Wellman Road
5. Turn right (West) on Brush Wellman Road for 37.4 miles
6. Turn right (North) when you see the big brown sign on the turn off for “Topaz Mountain rockhounding area” for about 1.7 miles
7. Turn left (West) for about 1 mile until a fork in the road (you will be in a huge wash by this point and glad to have a high clearance vehicle)
8. From here, there are so many different ways and crisscrossing roads to reach the amphitheater that it would be pointless to point you one way or the other
9. Keep going on a somewhat SW course until the road runs out. You will pass campsites all around. By this time you should be in the middle of the amphitheater.
10. Look for the white/grey rhyolite outcroppings all around. Feel free to hike up away from the campsites as you’ll probably be much more rewarded, but don’t be afraid to screen out the washes for the clear topaz as well