The Dugway Geode Beds have changed ownership and are now a paid collecting site. Visitors must submit a $30 fee and sign a liability waver before traveling to the site. In return, site owners are more active in helping collectors find high-quality material.
Located on the edge of the salt flats of the Dugway Proving Ground, these West Desert geode beds are one of Utah’s most popular rock collecting sites. Their convenient location near the gem collecting area of Topaz Mountain make them an excellent companion stop for a family trek to the Thomas Range.
Geodes are hollow rock nodules containing crystals of quartz, barite, and even amethyst. They formed in the nearby Dugway Mountains when mineral-rich volcanic gas became trapped in rhyolite, leaving cavities that became lined with crystal as water flowed through them. Geodes were traditionally called “thundereggs” due to their tendency to explode when thrown in a fire.
As geodes weathered out of the hillside, they gathered in layers of clay in the flats below. To collect them, you simply dig down into the clay, but to make the process easier the claim owners excavate pits in the ground.
Until recently, the claim was maintained by Loy Crapo of Delta, Utah. Since Loy’s passing, his family has taken over management of the site. To justify the excavation and insurance expenses of maintaining the site, visitors must now sign a liability waiver and submit a $30 fee per group to collect. In return, the Crapo family is constantly excavating new collecting pits in the clay to ensure visitors have constant access to fresh material.
A member of the Crapo family provided an information sheet on the collection site with the following:
“Our Dugway Geode Claims have been open for people to collect geodes for many years. Liability problems are an ongoing concern and with the amount of people collecting on the claims, we are unable to allow collecting as before. Our choice was to close the claims off completely or to go thru the process of having people sign a Liability Waiver, which comes with a $30.00 fee per Waiver.”
If you would rather not pay the fee, you can still collect geodes on your own. Simply drive near the collecting site and start digging with a shovel. Geodes are most frequently found within a 2-6 foot depth in the clay.
The collecting season runs Spring through Fall, until the roads become impassable due to snow and rain. More info on the site, along with driving directions, can be found here: http://www.rockhoundmap.com/listing/dugway-geode-beds/
To plan your trip, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org. They will reply with a liability waiver to sign and email back, along with payment.
RockhoundMap.com is a family-friendly guide to mineral collecting. Browse our map of collecting sites, get advice on how to find the best material, and read stories from other collectors.
Contributed by Dave Cannon