Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rockhound on the Road - Utah and Nevada

Alan with a chunk of the blue gray quartz

Alan and I decided to test drive two more rockhounding books since we enjoyed our September sojourn to northern NM. We purchased two books by William A Kappele, Rockhounding Nevada and Rockhounding Utah and headed out. Just east of Zion National Park, we stopped at Joe’s rock shop in Orderville, Utah where we were given a free map and quick lesson on finding Septarian Nodules. We headed out to Joe’s claim and within a couple of hours we found several keepers.

The next two sites were duds in spite of the authors rave reviews. It was then we realized that the two books were published 12 and 13 years ago! The obsidian site near Milford was as described, and was quite interesting. We picked up a bag of fist-sized chunks.Before heading into Nevada, Alan highlighted all of the book’s sites on our map, which made route finding so much easier. While both books have good detail maps of the sites, the state-wide maps are much too coarse of a scale to effectively plan a trip.

After spending a night in Ely, we headed to Garnet Hill just outside of town reported to have good signage into the site. As a result the directions in the book were sketchy. We easily found the Garnet Hill sign on the highway but all of the other signs had been destroyed. We found sign remnants here and there, but after searching for a couple of hours, we gave it up and continued west.

We enjoyed the scenery along Highway 50, the state-proclaimed “Loneliest Road in the US”, for a couple of more hours. With some exploring we found the Bench Creek Fossil site where the book said “you will have no trouble finding leaf fossils on the white hill.” We found the white hill, climbed all over it for a couple of hours, and found 2 very small, poor quality fossils. From there we headed to the wonderstone sites east of Fallon, but with heavy rain falling, we pushed on to Reno for the night.

After a week in California, we headed home this time down the west side of Nevada on Hwy 95, and again found beautiful views and little not quite ghost towns. The petrified wood site near Mina was a wash-out, but we found lots of Jasper there. At the Kernick Mine we found several small pieces of Selenite, but not the foot wide pieces described in the book. Following a night in Tonopah, we located the Carrara Mine which produced the lovely blue-gray quartz as described in the book, but in very limited supplies with no jackhammer.

We gained new appreciation for this stark and wild country, enjoyed some interesting spots, and met a few crusty rock shop owners along the way. And as always, we just like hitting the road!

Admiring the Many-Headed Barrel Cactus with the Carrara Mine in the background

Ahhh, the Open Road!



  1. wondering if you would share details of obsidian site near milford.

  2. Best bet is to pick up your own copy of the book referenced