Topaz Mountain, Utah

June 16, 2006

The Semenza Tentative Itinerary:

4:00 pmLeave Pocatello
9:00 pmArrive at Topaz Mountain, set up tent, get some sleep.
SaturdayLook for rocks, read, nap, eat lunch, hike around, draw, talk, hang out, play games, eat dinner, get more sleep...
SundayBreakfast, take our time, break camp, maybe hunt for more topaz, maybe just head for Idaho...

About Topaz Mountain:

The Thomas Range and Topaz Mountain are located about 30 miles northwest of Delta, Utah. Most of the area is federal land, used for some cattle grazing, but little else. It is a very arid region, hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The camp above is pitched in the heart of the "cove" and surrounded by Topaz Mountain and the adjoining ridges. It is the white to gray-colored rhyolite rock that contains the lithophysae (small gass pockets) in which small gemmy topaz crystals were able to form. Most of this area is reserved from mineral claim and is open to rockhounds for collecting. If you come to this area to collect, be prepared for primitive camping; no water, firewood, or toilet facilites are available. The nearest civilization is nearly 20 miles away. The small juniper trees shown above provide some relief from the hot summer sun, but not the pesky flies. Although not one of the ecological "garden spots" of the American West, it is here that some fo the most beautiful little topaz crystals in the world are found; a mineralologist's dreamland
Links for Topaz Mountain:
Contact Information:
Collecting Tips
"Topaz Mountain is the Southern most portion of Thomas Range. It is characterized by light gray to white rhyolite. The south eastern most point is Topaz Mountain Amphitheater (also know as Topaz Valley or the cove). This is the main and easiest accessible collecting area of the range. Topaz Valley was set aside by the B.L.M. Department of the Interior as a rockhound area. Despite the rumors of it being completely picked over, with hard work and a lot of patience you are often rewarded with some fine clear or sherry colored topaz.

The topaz of topaz mountain fades to colorless when exposed to heat and radiation (the Sun). So, to find the prized sherry colored topaz you have to resort to hard labor. I suggest for the casual collector to bring a 1/4" screen, rock hammer, and screwdriver. Screen any dirt in washes and around any vegetation. You could easily screen hundreds of clear topaz and some sherry in a days work. Also find any clear topaz on the surface and pry them out with a screwdriver or rock hammer.

If your an avid collector that likes to break up rock and get down to business, I suggest that you bring the following: a heavy hammer (3 lbs +), rock hammer, large chisels (3/4"+),screwdriver, and rock bag.. Attack the mountain by finding soft spots in the rock and hoping to find any cavities. Be aware of signs that may help you. Such as Vegetation in Rhyolite, fracture seams, or open cavities are all good signs you are in a promising area. Be sure to follow the fracture seam, usually sparked off by brownish colored altered hematite. Plugs and frothy rock (both very mineralized Rhyolite) are very good signs your in a cavity. If you follow the signs and be very patient you should be rewarded with many fine sherry colored topaz, and other beautiful minerals. See below for areas of greatest concentration for all the minerals."
http://www.minmarket.com/TopazMtn/topazmt.html#tips

What to Bring:

  • WATER
  • Food
  • Tent, Sun Shade
  • Fuel if you want a fire or hot food. We're not planning on having a fire, which is sad, but it's dry/barren out there and I don't want to buy firewood.
  • Sunscreen
  • Pick axes if you are big and strong
  • I prefer a small paintbrush (house painting that is) and a screwdriver
  • Good shoes
  • Clothes (obviously) and other personal hygiene effects...
  • Umm toilet paper, plastic bags and garbage bags would also be useful.