After spending a wonderful morning at Bryce Canyon National Park, we drove north to Delta where we spent the night. We had originally planned to camp, but the desert winds were blowing hard enough to damage our Coleman pop-up camper, so we retreated to a motel room in town.
We were up and on the road early the next morning to make the nearly 50-mile drive to Topaz Mountain. We followed the excellent directions provided on the following internet site to get there. Click Here. The "Gems Trails of Utah" guidebook's directions are also good. Even though the area is remote, the roads were surprisingly good so that even a 2-wheel drive vehicle could easily make it in good weather.
We parked in a spot that appeared to be good for primitive camping at the base of the rhyolite "hump" collecting area.
Topaz Mountain Rhyolite "hump"
Parking spot from the hump.
The view to the east from the hump was spectacular even though a strong wind had just begun to whip up a moderate sandstorm.
View from Collecting Area
There was broken rock everywhere. We sniffed around for a likely spot to work and settled on an area with lots of vugs in a wall. There were also a bunch of crystal fragments that were obviously a previous rockhound's leaverites from cobbing.
I found that a pointed chisel and 6-pound sledge worked best to split the rhyolite. I used a flat chisel and large prybar only when I was able to open up a significant crack.
Despite its bone-dry appearance, the desert was alive; we saw several large rat snakes and one small scorpion. I'd bet that there are plenty of rattlesnakes around as well, although we didn't run into one while we were there.
We found enough crystals in half a day to really make the trip worthwhile. The largest perfect crystal we found is about 1/2" long and sits perfectly in a small exposed pocket.
Click on each specimen picture to enlarge
Opal was one tired puppy at the end of the day, always happy to take advantage of a rare opportunity to sleep on a motel bed.
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