If you ever take one rockhounding trip, this might be the one most people recommend: Dugway Geodes and Topaz Mountain. My cousin Tom has some kids who have become interested in rocks, so we thought this would be a fun trip. We hopped in the van around 6:00 am and headed out around Utah lake on hwy 73 and watched as the sun rose over the hills. We drove through Faust to Vernon, and then the pavement ended. After that it’s desert and jackrabbits. We headed up over Lookout Pass and enjoyed the view before descending into the west desert.

The dirt road you take is actually the Pony Express route used in 1858 to carry the mail. You can visit the Pony Express stations along the way. We stopped in Simpson Springs for a break and checked out the little cabin. I tried to imagine how anyone could hole up in the middle of nowhere with a couple of horses and just wait to get scalped by the locals. But the view was nice and the kids broke of some weird green tuff near the monument.

From there you drive along the edge of the Dugway Proving Ground: not a nice place to venture into (not that you’d get far — the snipers would probably shoot you first). I have a friend who’s a firefighter, and they dropped him by helicopter into a brushfire in Dugway once. He said he wandered over a ridge and saw a bright green pond. Creepy.

So anyway, we followed the Pony Express road for another 20 miles and turned south just before the Dugway pass to go to the Topaz ampitheatre. We followed the Pismire wash for 15 long miles along the east side of the Thomas Range until we came to the Weiss Highway and turned into Topaz Valley.

Once you’re there you can pretty much pick a place and start looking. I’ve heard the knoll in the middle of the valley has great topaz. We stuck to the west side. You drive up as far as you can and the start climbing the hill. We looked in the creek wash for some clear topaz but didn’t find anything.

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