Fossil Hunting: Delta, Utah
Updated: Jul 15, 2020
Dive into Utah's rich geological history in actual fossil beds near Delta, Utah where you can find and keep your own fossils. This is where the classroom meets real-life and your kids can discover a love of geology and paleontology.
Fun: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(out of 5)
Difficulty: Very Easy EASY Moderate Hard Very Hard
Distance: 0.1 to 0.25 miles
Terrain: Dirt, rocks, shale. Bumpy dirt road to drive on to access fossil area.
Time: 1 to 2 hours
When to Go: Spring and fall
Free on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.
There is also a paid option up the road about a mile from the BLM land that is a 40 acre quarry called U-dig Fossils. This private quarry provides tools and instructions on fossil hunting with an entrance fee. We went fossil hunting when U-dig wasn’t open so I can’t speak to the success of fossil finding there. However, other blogs have mentioned that the overall fossil quality is better there.
U-Dig Fossil Quarry Prices
2 Hours – Ages 7 to 16: $19 Age 17 and older: $33
4 hours – Ages 7 to 16: $33 Age 17 and older: $49
8 hours – Ages 7 to 16: $58 Age 17 and older: $90
Ages 6 and under are free with a paying adult
There are no bathrooms on BLM land. The closest is about an hour away in Delta, UT. However, the paid quarry does have toilet facilities if you pay to find fossils.
THINGS TO BRING
Pickaxe or hammers
Lots of water, especially in the summer months
Sunscreen, no shade in the area
Spare tire, just in case
During the social distancing of COVID-19 our family found out about a place to hunt for trilobites and fossils in Utah for free! So much fun!
This area is on BLM land, about 1-hour outside of Delta Utah. It is literally in the middle of nowhere, but don't worry, I have directions, maps and GPS coordinates below. The last 45 minutes of the drive is on a dirt road. We take our mini-van everywhere and it did just fine on the dirt and gravel.
We saw wild horses on the last stretch before we got there. So beautiful.
The location for fossil hunting is in a ravine where the side of a hill has been visibly cut out by a tractor.
There are mounds of rock where the side of the hill has been removed, exposing layers of shale.
To find fossils, you can chip away at the shale with a shovel, hammer or pickaxe. Essentially, shale is layers of hardened mud. We were able to easily break it with our hands to look for fossils in between the layers. You can also just pick shale off the ground, turn it over and find fossils that way. We found the majority of our fossils this way.
We spent only an hour looking and found many plant fossils, one full trilobite and several imprints of trilobite fossils. A couple of my kids spent most of the time just climbing up the shale hill, only spending a few minutes looking, and they still found a few fossils.
This is a great family adventure because it is fun and easy for the entire family. My kids love learning about rocks, minerals and fossils so it was so fun to be our own paleontologists and geologists for the day instead of just seeing fossils in a museum.
PROS & CONS
Easy to find fossils
Fun place to explore
Long drive on a mildly bumpy dirt road
No amenities nearby unless going to private quarry
We went fossil hunting about 60 minutes west of Delta, Utah. Here are the GPS coordinates 39.345756,-113.275586. You can also follow my map below.
From Delta, head west on Highway 6, also called Highway 50. You will turn north on a dirt road called Death Canyon Road. You follow this for about 45 minutes. Off the main dirt road you will see a fork in the road to the right, head to this fork and then take a left at this fork. The area we searched for fossils is about 0.1 miles off of this fork.
To get to the U-Dig Fossils private quarry, stay on Death Canyon Road for another mile. There will be signage to direct you when to turn for the quarry.
To BLM land
To U-Dig Fossil Quarry
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Rock hounding for sunstones at Sunstone Knoll (1 hour)
Great Basin National Park (1.5 hours)
Fort Deseret State Park (1 hour)
As I was looking at other blogs about trilobite hunting afterward, I found that there is another BLM quarry about 1 to 2 miles from where we were hunting that looks awesome. I wish I would have known about it before we went. Follow this link for info and directions to the additional location. Also, here is the approximate GPS coordinates: Lat: 39 Deg 21' 29" N and Long: 113 Deg 15' 58" W.
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
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