Lake Mountains-Banded Calcite Onyx

IMAG0615The past few weekends Big J and I have had to keep the trips close to home since we had other stuff going on, but this should never be an excuse to not come back with awesome stuff ūüôā Our destination this time was in the Lake Mountains just west of Utah Lake and South of the town of Saratoga Springs. I had to be more specific in the title of this post since there are actually several different types of minerals and fossils at or near this location and we hope to return many times in the future and share with you all whatever we might find.


IMAG0612Despite what we read about the location, you actually do not necessarily need a four wheel drive or high clearance vehicle. We ended up driving right up a super sketchy side road only to find that we had passed the dig entirely. If you look on the map on the locations page I placed the pin right on the dig we ended up going past and coming back to. The vein itself appeared to run vertically right up the mountain. Large parts of it had been exposed and, after a few sprays with the spray bottle, we immediately recognized the banding.

You can find pieces and chips of the material all over the ground, but I would HIGHLY recommend a shovel, a sledge, chisels, pry bars, a brush, a spray bottle, etc. for a little bit of heavy/dirty work to get the bigger pieces. We broke two chisels trying to get one of the larger pieces out. You would think this stuff would be pretty soft (and honestly some of the chucks did actually just break apart in our hands), but the stuff you really want to go after are those chunks that are super solid, heavy, and thick.

IMAG0608The colors ranged from a honey yellow all the way to the rootbeer dark brown. My favorite was the greenish semi-transparent stuff we found on the other side of the mountain. From what I understand, just about any cut or dig you come across in this area should have some type of calcite coming out of it and this proved to be true in our wanderings. At any rate, I hope that when you do go that you run into the same success we ended up having.



IMAG0616Directions to Lake Mountains-Banded Calcite Onyx:

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

1. Drive North on I-15 toward Salt Lake City for 6.5 miles

2. Take exit 278 in American Fork and keep left (West) onto Pioneer Crossing (.4 miles)

3. Continue driving on Pioneer Crossing for another 5.3 miles

4. Turn left (South) onto Redwood Road and drive another 8.3 miles to the Dyno Nobel plant turnoff

5. Turn right (West) on the dirt road there (NOT the one into the Geneva gravel pit)

IMAG06136. Drive 2.76 miles on this main dirt road

(Not quite a half mile in the road splits in three and you’ll take the middle one that wraps around and to the left)

(Note: at about 1.4 miles the road runs right through a large quarry)

7. Turn left (Southwest) after the 2.76 miles for about 640 feet to a meeting of the roads

I’d recommend walking the last bit for step 8…

8. Turn left (East) on the road that goes up the hill (back toward Mt. Timp) for about another 500 feet and you’ll see the cut right there from the road

I should mention that this whole mountain was full of material (especially up and over the other side). When we were coming back down the main road, we parked at a little pullout where there was a for sale sign and saw digs and cuts all over the place. This is one of those areas where it definitely pays to explore.

Red Horn Coral

IMAG0560I am a little reluctant to post this since I haven’t exactly become an expert on this particular area just yet. This is a chance for anyone reading this to help me out though ha ha ha! We visited this location the last two Saturdays and finally found the specific site spoken of in several of the resources I’ve come across (we think). Sometimes it is hard putting together all of the information out there or even just validating its accuracy in the first place. But here goes nothing…

I am aware of previous and/or existing claims in this area. We came across one of these claims on one of the ridges (there was a little red shack next to it). On Google Earth or Google satellite view you can see this from above as a large white area on the map where the dirt road drops down a bit. It is just Northwest of the marker I placed on the map. We searched the hillsides around this claim and found chips and small pieces of the red horn coral, agate, jasper, and various fossils.

IMAG05851On the way back we met a couple of hikers who informed us that we had taken a wrong turn and ended up the wrong canyon. We spent the rest of the day searching the area they suggested we try, but were, for the most part, unsuccessful (not to mention extremely tired).

The next week, after searching online and staring at Google satellite images for hours on end, we determined to take the Cedar Hollow road just past the town of Woodland that seems to wrap up and around the location (mainly so we didn’t have to hike as much–we are lazy farts like that). After getting the Subaru stuck in a massive snow bank for a several¬†hours, it became¬†apparent that hiking in was our only chance.

IMAG0586Many people we had asked about this location mentioned that it was about a mile and a half from the base of the canyon. After hiking that distance, we searched long and far all over both sides of the trail, but still were only able to find bits and pieces. It was only with about 30-45 minutes before we had to leave for the day that we finally found what we presume to be the location.

You can imagine at this point that we were frantically digging with berserk-like fury for anything and everything that resembled what we were looking for, knowing that it might be weeks or even months before we would be able to return. We did find several specimens, but our enthusiasm to return to this location is off the charts.

IMAG0600I should mention that even before finding the actual human digs that we did come across a large hole dug by an animal of some kind. Upon rooting through the pile of dirt around the hole, much to our surprise, we found a rather large specimen. Obviously, it seems silly to randomly dig holes all over the mountainside, but you might have similar luck checking holes where someone (or something) has already done the work for you.



IMAG0598Directions to Red Horn Coral:

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

1. Drive East on 800 North for 3.7 miles to the Provo Canyon turnof

2. Take ramp on left onto US-189 N/E Provo Canyon Road

3. Drive 21.5 miles and turn left (North) onto US-189 N/Us-40 W/South Main Street in Heber

4. Drive 4.7 miles and turn right (Northeast) onto N State Road 32

IMAG05845. Drive another 10.4 miles to the four way stop in the town of Francis and go straight onto UT-35 East/W Main Village Way

6. Continue another 6.0 miles to destination on left (there is a parking area at the base of the canyon)

7. You’ll now begin your hike into Riley’s canyon. Take the main trail from the road and hike just barely over 1 mile and you will see the¬†digs up on the mountain to your left about 180¬†feet from the trail

8. If you start seeing the huge white tailings residue on the left side of the trail you went just a little too far (but in reality you might see success searching all over this area)