Dugway Geode Beds

Sippy Cups

On Sunday, May 8, 2016 Steve and I packed up the van, buckled in all three kids and headed out to the west desert in hopes of finding some geodes. The weather was a little questionable and the directions online were all a bit different, but we figured we’d give it a shot. It ended up being perfect. 60F and cloudy with sprinkles that didn’t start until we were passing through Simpson Springs on our way out. Below are pictures of our drive on the Pony Express Trail, the BugHouse Claim, how we unearthed our geodes, all the ones we brought home and my extra dirty minivan. This really was a fantastic trip that I would recommend for any family with kiddos that love rocks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Keep reading to learn about geodes, get good directions, see a list of things you should bring on this all day road trip and much, much more.

What is a geode and how are they formed?

FullSizeRender-5

The Utah Geological Survey can answer that question much better than I can, so here is what their website had to say:
“Approximately 6 to 8 million years ago (Miocene epoch), volcanic activity occurred in western Utah and deposited an extrusive igneous rock called rhyolite. Trapped gasses formed cavities within the rhyolite, and millions of years of ground-water circulation allowed minerals to precipitate into the cavities. The result is geodes with spherical shapes and crystal-lined cavities. Roughly 32,000 to 14,000 thousand years ago, a large body of water known as Lake Bonneville covered most of western Utah. The lake’s wave activity eroded the geode-bearing rhyolite and redeposited the geodes several miles away in the Dugway geode bed area as lake sediments. Most geodes are typically hollow whereas others are completely filled with massive, banded quartz. The most common mineral found within the geodes is quartz in various colors: clear (rock crystal), purple (amethyst), and pink (rose).”

Sounds cool right? It is, and you can find geodes right here Utah, just outside of Dugway!

How do I get to the Dugway Geode Beds?

There are two ways to get to the Dugway Geode Beds, either via I80 then down through Tooele or down south on I15 through Lehi. From West Jordan it was 7 minutes faster to go through Lehi, but If you live up north, I would definitely go through Tooele. Round trip this took us about 7 hours to cover just over 200 miles.

Directions via I80 through Tooele:

  1. Take I80 West
  2. Take Exit 99 for UT-36 toward Stansbury and Tooele
  3. Continue on UT-36 until just past Mile Marker 27, then turn right onto Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge/Pony Express Trail
    IMG_9950-2
  4. Follow Pony Express Trail (a gravel road you will be on for just over 2 hours) towards Fish Springs passing Lookout Pass, Simpson Springs Station and Dugway PassIMG_9929
  5. After 49.4 miles on the Pony Express Trail, turn right at the BLM’s Dugway Geode Beds sign
    IMG_9865
  6. This is where the road goes from gravel that is occasionally like a washboard, but relatively easy to navigate to what we considered to be borderline 4WD trail. Our minivan did okay, but there were a few instances where we weren’t sure we were going to make it and had to get out and take a look. If you have any type of SUV, this should be a piece of cake, but in anything else, just pay close attention to what’s out in front of you and drive slow.
  7. Once turned towards the Dugway Geode Beds, the road will have many little turns off of it. Stay to the left for 1.7 miles then take a right and The Bug House Claim is .7 miles on the right.
    IMG_9897

Directions via I15 South through Lehi, Utah:

  1. Take I15 South towards Lehi
  2. Take Exit 282 for US-89 South toward Lehi then turn right onto UT-85/W 2100 N
  3. In 2.6 miles use the left two lanes to turn slightly left onto UT-85 then any lane to turn slightly left again onto UT-68 South/Redwood Road
  4. In 1.8 miles turn right onto W 8570 N which will become Crossroads Blvd in .6 miles
  5. In .3 miles turn right onto Pioneer Crossing
  6. In .6 miles Continue onto UT-73 West/ W. Cedar Fort Road
  7. In 33.6 miles the road will come to a T, turn left onto UT-36 South
  8. Turn right onto Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge/Pony Express Trail just past Mile Marker 27
    IMG_9950-2
  9. Follow Pony Express Trail (a gravel road you will be on for about 2 hours) towards Fish Springs passing Lookout Pass, Simpson Springs Station and Dugway Pass
    IMG_9929
  10. After 49.4 miles on the Pony Express Trail, turn right at the BLM’s Dugway Geode Beds sign
    IMG_9865
  11. This is where the road goes from gravel that is occasionally like a washboard, but relatively easy to navigate to what we considered to be borderline 4WD trail. Our minivan did okay, but there were a few instances where we weren’t sure we were going to make it and had to get out and take a look. If you have any type of SUV, this should be a piece of cake, but in anything else, just pay close attention to what’s out in front of you and drive slow.
  12. Once turned towards the Dugway Geode Beds, the road will have many little turns off of it. Stay to the left for 1.7 miles then take a right and the BugHouse Claim is .7 miles on the right

    IMG_9897

    Maps

DugwayGeode Beds  BLM Map of Pony Express Route-2  BLM Map of Pony Express Route

What should we bring?

  • Spare Tire – You never know when one of these might come in handy and considering this drive consists of over 100 miles on gravel roads, it’s better safe than sorry
  • Shovels – A hand or gardening shovel for kids and a large shovel for adults
  • Pick Axe
  • 5 Gallon Buckets to Put Your Geodes In – We brought 2 and wished we had 5
  • Eye Protection
  • Binoculars – To see far off antelope, deer and other critters
  • Camera
  • Work Gloves
  • Rock Hammers – We bought ours on Amazon
  • Camp Chairs
  • Food and Water – There is nowhere to get anything for, well, at least 2 hours from the geode beds, so pack wisely
  • Sunscreen – Although we went on a very cloudy day, I’ve read that it can be brutally hot and sunny, so don’t forget to have your kiddos wear hats and sunscreen

Will my cell phone work at the geode beds?

No. You will have very spotty coverage between the intersection of UT-36 and UT-73 and when you turn onto the Pony Express Trail you will have NO service. Zip, zero, nada. Do not expect your to be able to make a call or use your phone’s GPS until you return to UT-36 and even then it will probably be awhile until you can get a call to connect.

Where is the closest gas station?

In the booming town of Vernon, Utah, with a population of 257, there is a convenience store/gas station called Silver Sage. To get to Vernon from the Pony Express Trail, turn right at UT-36 and you will run into Vernon in 2 miles.

Is The Bug House Claim Really a Private Mining Claim?

On April 21, 2016, I received this email after inquiring about paying to dig in their claim:

“Hello,

Right now, you can go out to the geode beds without a waiver or a fee. You can go at any time, including Sunday.

We have not mined this year, due to some problems with the BLM, although our excavator is still there. With us not mining, you still should be able to find something by digging into the dirt hills.

There is also BLM areas out there that have bigger geodes but harder digging.

Thank you,

Crapo’s

The Bug House

435-864-2402

bughouse@xmission.com

Are There Other Geode Beds in the Area?

Yes, from the looks of it there may be as many as 5 or even more on BLM lands. I am unsure of where those are located, but should you stumble upon one and want to share your directions, please email me at slcsippycupsandchardonnay@gmail.com. Keep an eye out for past digging and with a bit of elbow grease, you may just find a prize winning geode.

Can I keep what I find?

The answer is yes and the following is what the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has to say about rock collecting:

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.29.34 PM.png

Click HERE to go the the BLM’s Rock Collecting webpage for more information.

Can I camp on the Pony Express Trail?

Yes, but they are still quite a ways away from the geode beds, but much closer than anything else.

  • Just west of Lookout Pass there are some first come, first serve spots. They fill up quickly on weekends and holidays, so make sure you arrive early to secure your spot. There are also no restrooms, electricity or water hookups at this campground, so plan accordingly or hop back on the Pony Express Trail and 15 miles down the road you will see the Simpson Springs Campground on your left, they have much more amenities.
  • The Simpson Springs Campground has 20 spots with picnic tables, fire pits and charcoal grills. They also have vault toilets. To read more about this BLM campground that is open year round, click HERE.

Did you know that there is a book packed full of trips just like this one right here in Utah?

There is, and here it is:

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 9.31.38 AM

This book can be purchased at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon.

Please note that traveling in remote areas can be dangerous from weather to road conditions to car trouble and much, much more. The information listed above was current on May 8, 2016, but anytime after that you must proceed with caution and at your own risk.

Click HERE to return to Let’s Rock and read about some of our other fun family rockhounding trips in and around Utah.

Untitled design-5  Untitled design-6  Copy of Facebook Post – Untitled Design

Sippy Cups-2

Follow us on Instagram!-2  Join Our Facebook Group!-3  Find Us On Meetup!  Contact Us!  Join Our Facebook Group!-2  Follow us on Instagram!  Follow us on Instagram!-3