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If you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity in Utah, a trip to the Dugway Geode Beds will not disappoint! The Dugway Geode Beds are the place to go in Utah to find geodes filled with beautiful crystals.
I recently spent a wonderful day searching for these geodes, and in this guide, I’m sharing everything I learned from my trip to the Dugway Geode Beds so that you can plan your own trip.
In this guide we’ll cover:
- the geology of the Dugway Geode Beds
- how to get there
- land ownership
- what tools you’ll need
- how to find a geode
- need-to-know details about the area
Let’s get started!
About the Dugway Geode Beds:
First, let’s chat quickly about how in the world these geode beds even came to be.
As it turns out, we need to go back approximately 6 to 8 million years ago when the volcanic activity occurred in western Utah.
In this case, when lava came out of a volcano, it cooled very quickly and solidified into an extrusive igneous rock called rhyolite.
Trapped gasses in the lava formed cavities within the rhyolite – kind of like a permanent bubble.
Over millions of years, groundwater circulation allowed minerals to precipitate into the cavities forming the crystals inside.
The result is a Utah geode with a spherical shape and crystal inside!
But how did we get to the point where we could easily find these geodes?
Approximately 32,000 to 14,000 years ago, a large body of water known as Lake Bonneville covered most of western Utah.
The wave activity in the lake eroded the geode-bearing rhyolite and redeposited the geodes several miles away as lake sediments.
This area is known today as the Dugway Geode Beds. So cool!
The most common mineral found within the geodes is quartz. The quartz can vary in color based on other minerals or growth imperfections.
How to Get to the Dugway Geode Beds:
The drive out to the Dugway Geode beds was surprisingly beautiful.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a variety of wildlife along the way.
We saw wild horses, pronghorns, and birds. It was awesome!
Directions from Salt Lake City:
- Drive time: about 2 hours, 45 minutes
From Salt Lake City, take I-80 westbound until you reach the Tooele turnoff (exit 99).
Travel south on Highway 36 for about 40 miles to the Pony Express Road (the dirt road just west of Faust).
Turn west (right) and proceed about 50 miles on the Pony Express Road to the Dugway geode bed turnoff.
At the turnoff, you’ll see a sign on your right. (pictured below)
Geodes can be found approximately 1 to 2 miles north of this turnoff.
At this point, there are a lot of forks in the dirt road, and little to no signage to guide you to the geode beds.
After the turnoff, we relied heavily on the satellite view on the GPS to help us find the geode pits.
We parked at coordinates: 39.89431, -113.13687. It was about 2.4 miles driving from the turnoff.
The image below shows a satellite view of the geode pits. As you can see, there are several ways that you can access the geode beds.
I highly recommend having a GPS for this trip. Something as simple as the Gaia GPS app on your phone will help a lot in finding the pits.
A map and compass are always important to have on any road trip, in addition, a GPS will be really helpful in finding these geode beds.
- Utah highway map: I always leave one of these in the car.
- Gaia GPS app: The Gaia GPS app is great for these sorts of trips. With a premium membership, you can download maps for offline use, track routes, and more, all on your cell phone.
The Dugway Geode Beds are on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands and are free to the public to collect for personal use.
Permits and permissions are not required.
There are no current mining claims for this rockhounding site. (Last update: 2020)
For additional information, visit the Dugway Geode Beds BLM page.
How to Find Geodes at the Dugway Geode Beds
Now we can talk about how to find geodes in Utah!
There are two main excavation pits managed by the BLM where geodes can easily be found, but collecting geodes is not limited to just the pits.
I did not see any other signage after the turnoff to indicate where the pits were located. As mentioned above, we used a GPS with a satellite view to help us locate one of the pits.
You’ll be digging in a soft loose material that is susceptible to caving. Always be careful.
What Tools You Need to Find Geodes:
I would not consider myself a rockhounding expert, but I do think that we had the right tools for the job that day!
Below is what we brought to find geodes and break them open:
- Shovel – Great for digging deeper into the geode pit and moving lots of dirt.
- Hammer – We used a 3-pound hammer to break open the geodes!
- Chisel – Used with the hammer for a more precise break into the geodes.
- Pry bar – Great for getting leverage and moving some bigger rocks.
- Gloves – Protect your hands from rough rocks and sharp pieces.
- Safety Glasses – Protect your eyes from rock pieces as you break open the geodes.
- Towel – Before you smash the geode open, you can wrap it in a towel to prevent small pieces from flying all over the place.
- Collecting container or bucket – To hold all the cool geodes that you find!
How to Find a Geode:
Most geodes are crystal-lined hollow spheres, although you can find some geodes that are filled with massive banded quartz.
The geodes are pretty easy to find due to their grey color, spherical shape, and lightweight.
When you hold it in your hand, it will feel lighter than a solid rock would. This is a good indication that the inside is potentially hollow and lined with crystals!
Most of the geodes we found were 1 to 3 inches in diameter.
How to Break a Geode:
I’m no geode-opening expert, but below are some simple ways to break open a geode that don’t require any power tools or special saws.
No matter what method you use to reveal your crystals, I would definitely wear safety glasses the entire time you’re breaking them open.
Smashing – The classic go-to option! Place a geode in a small towel or cloth and smash it on a hard surface. You can also use a hammer to smash it. This method will likely break your geode into many small pieces and you will not get a straight clean cut. The towel will keep the pieces from scattering all over the place. If you think you have a museum-worthy geode, this might not be the best method, but it sure is fun!
Hammer and Chisel – I really liked this method for getting a slightly more controlled break when compared to the free for all smashing method above. Place the chisel where you want to break the geode, and gently tap the chisel with your hammer until the geode cracks open.
Know Before You Go:
- There are no services or bathrooms anywhere near the geode beds.
- The closest place with a pit toilet that I’ve found is the Simpson Springs Campground. The campground also has potable water (seasonally).
- Make sure you carry plenty of water, food, gas, adequate clothing, bathroom supplies, a spare tire, and emergency supplies.
- Make sure to fill up gas when possible. Depending on where you’re coming from, Tooele or Eagle Mountain are good places to fill up before you head into the more remote part of the drive.
- High-clearance vehicles are recommended. Check weather conditions before you go. The road can be impassable when wet.
- Camping is allowed (and free) on BLM land, but in order to be considerate of others, avoid camping on or directly next to the excavation pits.
Visit the Dugway Geode Beds
I hope you’re excited to hit the road and find your own geodes right here in Utah.
This is a great outdoor activity for the entire family and the perfect way to teach kids a little geology and chemistry.
I had a rock collection as a kid, so going out to the geode beds really made all of my childhood dreams come true.
Check out the video below from my trip to the geode beds:
I hope you have a great trip, and please comment below if you have any questions.
Have you been to the Dugway Geode beds? What was your experience? Comment below.