With a little research and effort in the field, fossils can be found in quite a number of areas in Utah. Before getting too excited though, like in most others with vast stretches of public lands, only common invertebrate fossils and petrified wood can be legally collected.
If on the rare chance you happen across a dinosaur bone, or something really exotic, take a GPS reading of the spot, a few photographs and pass it onto a specialist at a the University of Utah. I can’t think of something much more exciting in Palentology than learning you discovered a new species, or being a co-author in scientific research. But one thing is certain, you won’t get any recognition stealing dinosaur bones from public lands and sticking them in your closet.
Geology of Utah – William Stokes (1986)
Millard County – This is well known fossil location and a good spot to start your exploration. I encourage anyone who hasn’t visited before, to drop by the Great Basin Museum in Delta before heading out into the fossil areas south and west of town. It offers some great examples of both fossils and minerals that have come out of the area, and gives you an idea of what you mind find. You might also get some tips of where to look.
There are three major areas I know of to find fossils, two are on public lands, and one is private operation.
- Crystal Peak (ammonites, other) – The peak itself is not fossil rich, as its made of volcanic rock, but the sandstone hills around it are. The peak is a very distinctive white, and easily spotted miles before you reach it. The best approach to it from Black Rock, on Highway 257. The road is well graded, and should be easily traveled in a passenger car with reasonable clearance, and under good weather conditions.
- Fossil Mountain (ammonites, other) – I have not been here personally, but as the name implies the mountain is covered in fossils, but as its been picked over quite a bit, you may have your work cut out for you. It is only a 5-10 miles east and north of Crystal Peak. I don’t have any knowledge on the condition of the road.
- U-Dig Fossils (trilobites) – If you are looking for trilobites and don’t have a lot of hours to burn, I would recommend visiting this commercial operation. They have nice stuff compared to what you will find digging in the public areas around this quarry. They are located due west of Delta.
Emery County – There a few minors spots here that I have found. With more exploration I am sure there are others.
- Clawson – Heading east from Clawson toward the San Raefal River you will hit some hills with large ammonites. But in general the ones I found were very brittle.
- I-70 – Along the south side of I-70 between Fremont Junction and Green River are a number of “ranch access exits”. At one of these and probably several of them are eroding sandstone formations where brachiopods and probably other fossil types can be found. I didn’t see anything of exceptional quality.