Rock Discoveries

Unearthing the Mysteries of Trilobites in Utah: A Guide to Fossil Hunting

Trilobites – the prehistoric creatures that roamed the earth over 250 million years ago and have now been extinct for more than 200 million years – have always fascinated paleontologists and collectors alike. Trilobite fossils from the Cambrian period can now be found in certain areas of Utah.

In this article, well take a closer look at these remarkable creatures, where to find them, and how to go about doing so safely and legally.

Trilobite Fossils in Utah

In the vast expanse of Utahs high desert regions, trilobite collectors have found a mecca for their hobby. The Wheeler Amphitheater area in the House Range of Millard County near Delta has prolific deposits of Cambrian trilobites.

These fossils are found in shale deposits that can be uncovered by splitting rocks in muddy areas in the desert. To get specimens from these trilobite hotspots in Utah, collectors must secure a permit from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Finding Trilobites in Utah

When looking for trilobites in Utah, it is crucial to have protective clothing and gloves. These will protect the explorer from the intense heat and harsh winds that seasonally blow through the area and will also keep you safe from the razor-sharp shale fragments in which the trilobite fossils can be found.

To get started on a trilobite hunt, youll need to do some research beforehand. The Utah Geological Survey provides thorough descriptions of the area and information on how to locate trilobites by geological formations.

With this information, trilobite enthusiasts can head to the desert and begin to search for these ancient creatures.

U-Dig Trilobite Quarry

For those who prefer to have a little more guidance,

U-Dig Trilobite Quarry is a well-known fossil quarry located in Antelope Springs in the House Range. The quarry operates on private land and offers public digging opportunities for a fee.

The quarry has an extensive collection of Cambrian trilobites, which can be dug from the earth by enthusiasts.

Location and Entry Fees


U-Dig Trilobite Quarry is situated centrally between Delta and Fillmore in Utah. The entrance fee is per person and includes the use of digging tools, gloves, and containers in which to place the trilobite fossils.

Digging Tools and Assistance

U-Dig Trilobite Quarry provides professional-grade excavators that can be used to dig deeper and access trilobite specimens from otherwise unreachable depths. The quarry staff is knowledgeable and experienced in trilobite excavation and provide subsequent instructions to ensure a safe exploration.

Gloves and all containers necessary for trilobite collection are available for use and can be requested when booking.

An Unforgettable Experience

Trilobites are fascinating creatures that capture the imagination of people all over the world. Whether fossil hunting in Utahs high desert or visiting the

U-Dig Trilobite Quarry, experiencing the thrill of uncovering and holding these ancient and delicate creatures is a memorable experience.

In conclusion, Utah is one of the worlds trilobate hotspots, and collectors worldwide flock there for the chance to discover these fascinating creatures. Whether exploring the House Range or digging at the

U-Dig Trilobite Quarry, take advantage of the many resources available to make your trilobite expedition safe and fruitful.

With protective gear, research, and professional assistance if needed, anyone can safely become a trilobite hunter in Utah and add a unique treasure to their collection.

3) A New Dig

For those seeking out a newer adventure, there are a few options for trilobite dig sites that arent as well-known as the

U-Dig Trilobite Quarry. One such site is a private field that is open to the public, just outside of Delta, called A New Dig.

This Field is located on private property, where the Elrathia Kingii trilobite can be found. These trilobites are famed not only for their iconic appearance but for being great specimens for those new to fossil collecting.

Reservations and Fees

This site requires that collectors make a reservation in advance, which can be done by email or over the phone. A New Dig does charge a fee per individual person, and a smaller fee for children under 12.

However, all rockhound gift specimens will be provided free of charge to all individuals.

Experienced Assistance

A New Dig has 40 years of experience in trilobite hunting, and all diggers will have access to their staff, who are available and eager to assist. They offer effectively 8 hours of digging and exploring at their field, complete with experienced staff available to answer any questions and guide diggers, as they pursue their trilobite specimens.

Digging tools and equipment are routinely serviced and checked, ensuring that the best tools will be available to make the hunt as easy as possible.

4) BLM Trilobite Quarry

For those looking for a cost-effective and prospect-rich trilobite dig site, BLM Trilobite Quarry is a free public site thats worth a visit. The quarry is undeveloped, measuring around an acre in size, and home to a vast collection of Cambrian trilobites that have not yet been picked through by collectors.

Location and Access

To access the quarry, visitors will need GPS coordinates (or some other form of distinct navigation), to find the directions for the dirt road, using maps or apps, visitors can make their way to the undisturbed quarry without any issues. The site was once mined commercially for its trilobites, but it is now tapped-out shale.

The site is accessible year-round, although dirt roads can be challenging to navigate after heavy rainfall.

Finding Trilobites

Trilobites can be found in the dried mud areas around the quarry, as well as in small scrap piles that have built up from previous collectors. After rainfalls, unique specimens can be exposed that may have been washed away from their initial location.

Finding these trilobites can be challenging, and the site recommends using a magnifying glass for closer inspection of the shale. In conclusion, theres more than one way to experience the thrill of uncovering a trilobite fossil in Utah.

Whether visiting the private site at A New Dig, or heading to the BLM Trilobite Quarry, it is essential to plan ahead, bring the necessary tools and equipment, and be prepared to dig for your treasures. Whatever method you choose, it will undoubtedly be a one-of-a-kind experience that will provide you with a deeper understanding of the fossil history of the region.

5) Weeks Formation and Wellsville Mountains

Utah offers a wealth of trilobites to collectors, and two of the most significant regions for hunting them down are the Weeks Formation and the Wellsville Mountains. While both of these areas are known for providing pockets of trilobite-rich shale, collectors should be aware of certain guidelines about collecting on BLM lands and the restrictions on private collecting or commercial use.

Pockets of Trilobite-rich Shale

The Weeks Formation covers a vast region of the western United States, including parts of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Within the formation, the Spence Shale is known to contain excellent trilobite specimens.

The Wellsville Mountains, on the other hand, provide a rich source of trilobites from the Lanston Formation. Collectors will find plentiful opportunities to dig for these ancient creatures on BLM lands.

Before embarking on a trilobite expedition, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the guidelines and restrictions for collecting on BLM lands. Collectors should thoroughly research the site they wish to explore, obtain the necessary permits, and ensure they follow all the rules to ensure both their own safety and to protect the environment for future generations.

Recommended for Experienced Collectors

While beginners may find the idea of backpacking, walking, and climbing in search of trilobite fossils appealing, it is recommended that collectors be experienced before embarking on a hunt in the Weeks Formation or Wellsville Mountains. These regions offer a challenging terrain, and some of the trilobites found can be challenging to remove from the rock and quite large.

The Spence Shale is known to produce very delicate trilobites, and collectors should be prepared to handle them with care to ensure that they remain intact. The Lanston Formation in the Wellsville Mountains, on the other hand, is known to produce some of the largest trilobite specimens found anywhere.

The BLM has specified that private collecting is limited to 25 pounds per day per individual, with the material to be used for personal, educational, or scientific purposes. Commercial use of the excavated material, on the other hand, is prohibited.

In conclusion, the trilobite enthusiast can find joy at the Weeks Formation and Wellsville Mountains. However, it is important to take necessary precautions, do thorough researching of the areas before visiting them, and follow the guidelines that have been put forth by the BLM.

These regions offer a wealth of opportunities to excavate ancient trilobites, but collectors should be well versed in the hunting process before going on an expedition. With experience, patience, and a little bit of luck, the intrepid trilobite collector can mine for these prehistoric gems and build an impressive collection.

In conclusion, Utah is home to a variety of trilobite sites, each with its own unique offerings and guidelines. Whether visiting a private field, a free public site, or exploring BLM lands, collectors can discover the wonder of these fascinating prehistoric creatures.

Always keep in mind the necessary safety precautions, necessary permits, and regulations governing the sites. With the right preparation, tools, experience, and a little bit of luck, collectors can uncover some remarkable specimens, adding to their collections while also advancing our collective understanding of the Earth’s ancient history.


1. Are permits required to hunt for trilobites in Utah?

Yes, permits are needed to hunt for trilobites in Utah, especially when exploring BLM lands. 2.

Can I sell my trilobite specimens? Commercial use of excavated trilobite material is prohibited in most cases, although some private collecting opportunities may allow for limited personal, educational, or scientific use.

3. Can inexperienced collectors dig for trilobites in the Weeks Formation and Wellsville Mountains?

It is recommended that only experienced collectors attempt to explore these regions, as they offer a challenging terrain and some of the trilobites found can be quite large and delicate. 4.

What tools do I need to take when trilobite hunting in Utah? Basic tools include protective clothing, gloves, digging tools, containers, and magnifying glasses.

5. Can I keep every trilobite I find?

There may be restrictions on the number of trilobites you can take depending on the site you are exploring. It is important to research the specific guidelines and regulations governing your chosen location.

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