Agate Hill near Bryce Canyon

The second location we decided to visit this weekend was on the other side of Highway 143 near the town of Panguitch (“the Gateway to Bryce Canyon National Park”). I’m sure there are multiple “agate hills” throughout the world, but the two I know of in Utah are one located in the Drum Mountains South of Topaz Mountain and another one located Southeast of Panguitch near the West wall of Bryce Canyon National Park.

This “Agate Hill” is truly a hill made up almost entirely of agate–just about every single rock you pick up will be some sort of agate. As such, this truly is an agate-lover’s paradise with multiple colors, multiple varieties, and an abundance of material. If you remember, we were coming from the Brian Head location and I noticed we passed several lava flows on Highway 143 while en route to this location. From my limited knowledge on how agates are formed, I assumed that the numerous amount of agate material was due to these large ancient lava beds.

If you get bored searching the hill itself, I would highly recommend meandering around the washes surrounding the hill, especially to the East when you start getting into the red sand. I’ve heard of some really cool fossils people have found in the area. Bryce Canyon is my favorite National Park in Utah and, although the views from this area are mesmerizing in and of themselves, I would highly recommend a quick trip into the park itself. It is one of the few National Parks you can explore and take in most of it in just one day.

We didn’t run into too many other people around the area (Probably because of the season), but I did notice that many of the trees on and around the hill had been cut down with all of the limbs cut off and left there. This made for an easy scoping of the area, but I didn’t know the reason for it.

Again, as with many of the other locations I have been to and mention on this site, the directions to this place were completely off-base in the other books and references I was using so I have corrected that below. As always, please let me know if you have any new information on ANY of these locations or if I have any incorrect information. I don’t want to lead any of you astray!

Directions to Agate Hill near Bryce Canyon:

From the intersection of 800 North and I-15 in Orem, Utah

1. Drive South on I-15 for 178.4 miles until exit 95 toward US-89/Panguitch/Kanab

2. Turn left (East) onto UT-20 E and drive 20.5 miles to US-89

3. In the town of Panguitch, turn right (South) onto US-89 for 10.1 miles until you get to a dirt road on the left hand side called Casto Canyon Road

4. Turn onto Casto Canyon Road, cross the bridge and hang left, and drive 2.4 miles in total from the highway to the location on the left

Brian Head Agate

IMAG0496 Big J and I had the chance to do one last hoorah before winter sets in and snow covers all of our favorite spots. The goal was to fill up some buckets with agate to stare at and play around with while we remain cooped up all winter. As far as agate goes in Southern Utah, I am familiar with the “Summit” location near Cedar City, but had heard of some other great locations nearby to hit up.

The first place we visited was located near Brian Head ski resort (I do love snowboarding here with the Misses in the rockhounding offseason). We passed a group of young skiers just learning the basics on what little snow had fallen the day before. There is a small creek near the top of the resort running off of Brian Head summit that contains a fair amount of nice agate. The ground this day was lightly dusted with snow and the creek was mostly frozen over, but we bundled up and braved the wind and the cold for a day of nice hunting.

IMAG0491I noticed right off the bat several large boulders of agate just chilling right there in the creek. They were definitely picture worthy!–Reds, yellows, blues, blacks, and whites mostly, but we only explored a small section of the river. I noticed some jasper there too as you usually would see. It is always good to have water or a spray bottle nearby when hunting for agates to get an idea of what each specimen will look like when polished so this location with the creek running right through the middle was ideal.

We parked on the road there and spent the majority of the time on the lower end of the river. It seemed like the agate was bedded up in the North bank of the creek and flowed right down into the water. Even with the cold weather, the ground was quite soft and so we didn’t really need any of the tools we had brought–only buckets to fill up 🙂

IMAG0494The beauty of the area surrounding this location really is extraordinary. Vast meadows and snow capped peaks with rolling hills of red rocks around the horizon. It is definitely NOT what you would picture Southern Utah to look like, but I’d say well worth the trip even just for the views.
Like many of the other locations I have on this site, the directions and distances can and will vary quite a bit from what you will see in books or on other websites. I always use Google Maps (especially the satellite view or Google Earth) to get these locations down to as exact as I possibly can.

Directions to Brian Head Agate:

From the intersection of 800 North and I-15 in Orem, Utah

IMAG0497 1. Drive South on I-15 for 194 miles until exit 78 toward UT-143/Parowan/Paragonah

2. Turn left (South) onto North Main Street for 1.2 miles

3. Turn left (East) onto East Center Street (turns slightly right and becomes Highway 143) for 14.9 miles until Brian Head Peak Road

4. Turn left (East) onto Brian Head Peak Road and drive .4 miles to the creek that runs right under the road