Muddy Creek Septarian Nodule Dig

IMAG0691 I’ve had the opportunity to visit this site a few times in the last two years. Highway 89 is one of my favorite drives in Utah and I always enjoy being able to visit the three different rock shops all within a quarter mile of each other in the town of Orderville (as well as Joe’s rock shop just a mile or two North). That’s four rock shops in one small town!

You may be drawn to the fact that the price of Septarian nodules is still quite high nowadays or perhaps your interest in the latest HBO series Game of Thrones has you searching out these “Dragon Stone” eggs or maybe you just like cracking open rocks with pretty crystals inside. At any rate, this long trip South can be quite rewarding.

The Muddy Creek area West of Orderville is known for containing numerous septarian and ammonite nodules. Utah Septarian nodules are among the finest in the world with others being found in England, New Zealand, Morocco, and Madagascar. You may find many tourists nearby as this location puts you right in between several National Parks.

IMAG0690 “Septarian” comes from the latin septum (“partition”). The cracks that create the partitions are highly variable in shape and volume making each one unique. The outer clay shell of the Septarian is made up of bentonite. On the inside, between the outer clay shell and the crystal pocket inside, is a brown layer of aragonite. Within the crystal pocket you’ll find yellow calcite and/or clear barite crystals or you may even find some pyrite or various fossils.

You’ll find lots of different information out there on how Septarians were formed so I won’t go into that too much here. The most important thing I’ve found is that once you find one, you’ll should find several others nearby in the same layer. If you start digging above or below that layer you’ll probably end up doing a whole lot of work for nothing. Sometimes, the ground has shifted and the layers won’t exactly line up, but I found more success when I followed a particular layer.

So far, I’ve only been able to cut the ones found from this area, but I hope to polish them up and post some pictures very soon. I wanted to at least get this information up before Spring in case anyone reading had some trips planned out around this area.
Directions to Muddy Creek Septarian Nodule Dig:

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

1. Drive South on I-15 for 177 miles to the turnoff for US-20 (exit 95)

2. Turn left (East) onto US-20 toward US-89/Panguitch/Kanab

3. Drive 20.5 miles on US-20 until you run into US-89. Turn right (South) onto US-89 and drive 10.1 miles into the town of Panguitch

4. In the town of Panguitch, turn left (East) and continue on US-89. Drive about 48.4 miles past the towns of Hatch, Alton, Glendale, and Orderville

5. Look for a Mormon heritage historical pillar on your right marking the dirt road turnoff leading West into the Muddy Creek area and turn onto this road

6. Drive 3.5 miles in a Northwest direction until a turnoff veers off to the right

7. From here, the road can get a little nasty and I wouldn’t recommend doing it in a car. You’ll want to continue up some switchbacks and across a field for about .75 miles to the dig site

8. (You’ll pass another claim with an excavator on site right before hitting this location. You should have to pass through a gate down into a dig that wraps all the way around a hill. You’ll find pieces of nodules scattered about the valley, but might have to do some digging to locate the layer to find the whole nodules)

4 thoughts on “Muddy Creek Septarian Nodule Dig”

  1. I have been to this area numerous times. Joseph Caruso ie. (Joes rock shop) was the original owner of the claim. His son Ken currently runs the shop. Joe sold the claim to some folks in Delta before he passed, under the terms that part of claim is to be left open to public collecting. The area with the excavator is the current dig and is off limits to the public. However, if you keep following the road past the fenceline you will come across the old dig sites.
    Stop at Joes Rock Shop on the north side of Orderville before you head out to the claim. They will give you a map and lots of pointers on how to find the best spots. Plus they have a lot of very cool stuff to look at for sale.

    1. Hi BLake! Thank you so much for this information. I was only able to briefly visit the rock shop, but the folks there were super friendly and it was fun to walk around out in the yard.

  2. Hi! I live very near here and know the gentlemen who operate these claims. I don’t believe they would appreciate you digging in their claim (which I’m pretty sure they purchased from the BLM), and I think you’d be trespassing if you did. There may be other areas nearby to rockhound, but their active or inactive mining operation is not a good choice. Please be considerate of their legal claim to the site and find somewhere else, maybe even nearby, to dig for your own nodules.

    Besides this, I think your website has some fantastic information. Thanks!

    1. Hi! There are many septarian claims in the area. Are you sure this is the same one? I have visited this location several times in the past with different rockhounding groups and we were led to believe that this one was no longer registered. The last time we went was in the fall of 2015 and we didn’t see any signage or claim marker posts or anything. Things may have changed since then so I can’t speak for what has happened recently. I know there has been a lot of mining activity all around this area historically. We did cross the valley off to the Southeast a little bit as we heard an excavator digging around. We spoke to the gentleman running the excavator and he gave us a rundown of the area and it sounded like the location we were at was still open to the public. He had just barely received confirmation that his claim was accepted a few months prior so he was staging everything out. I would never encourage visitors to this site to dig on an active and registered mineral claim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.