Rockhounding Locations in WY, MT; UT. (Rough Draft, 05/02/2021 Revision)

Rockhounding Locations in WY, MT; UT. (Rough Draft, 05/02/2021 Revision)

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Bula, y’all! This is missing a ton of great places, but I do update it every few months with a new location or two from my past explorations. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. And if you have any tips (I’ll keep your finds a secret!), let me know. 🙂

Map of Locations


For all of my maps, you can use my maps page. If you’re looking for individual hiking tracks (rather than single-point GPS data), please see my GaiaGPS page, which is hosted off-site, and is free. Each of the included tracks will eventually have its own transcription of events.

1.) Fossilized leaves near Miles City, MT:

Beautiful, dainty leaves in red stone.

2.) Belemnites and other fossils near Bridger, MT:

Note: stramatolites can be found in some washes at the base of the Pryors nearby.

3.) Fossils in Sanders County, MT:

Wolsey Shale yields abundant articulated trilobites (Albertella helena, Kochina gordonensis, Strotocephalus gordonensis, Ptarmigania gordonensis, and Vanuxemella contracta), as well as brachiopods (Acrothele colleni and Micromitra scuptilis) and hyoliths (Hyolithus convexus).

This paper has an alternate location along the logging road. I recommend walk-in access via the Radio Creek Road starting at a pullout located here. Of special note, a very interesting surge-flow outlet for a creek is found in the “V” section of the road by the pullout. The clamber down through the woods and thicket is well worth the spectacular site of the mountainous, artesian well.

4.) Winton petrified wood near Rock Springs, WY:

Go north on 191, take a right on the dirt road (GPS should lead you there), continue on dirt road until you see a sign that is marked for Winton and Superior. Make a right on it. After a little bit it will split; right goes to Superior, and left goes to Winton. Continue on the main path to Winton, Follow it. It will turn slightly left for a short, steep incline. At the top of this small incline, make a right. Follow the road a short distance until it splits; stop at the fork and walk up the washed-out left road for a few hundred feet. In the charred areas with coal you’ll find petrified wood. In fact, everywhere in the blackened areas has petrified wood on both sides of the draw.



5.) Sharktooth Ridge teeth and trace fossils near Rawlins, WY:

Follow the dirt roads toward and past the water tower on the ridge. Fossils in the escarpment.

6.) Interesting sedimentary features near Adobe Town, WY:

Objective is to get to Road 4412. Do NOT attempt unless dry. High-clearance only.

7.) Fossil Mountain & Darby Wind Cave near Jackson, WY:

See my hikes in to this area in the early spring, middle-summer, and late summer.

8.) Red Gulch Dino Track Site near Shell, WY:

Plus, it’s a very beautiful area.

8a.) Devil’s Kitchen walk-in access near Red Gulch, Wyoming:

This area is very close to Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite. A quick jaunt down a nice dirt road brings you to the overlook, which is marked with a sign. Follow the road toward its terminus (going down toward a river) and easy, walk-in access is available. My kid loved exploring it with me. She said she was “looking for Sand People.”

9.) Moonshine Arch near Vernal, UT along with a dinosaur track site at Red Fleet:

Public access with nice walk in. Lots of sand. Also lots of buzzworms. Use caution.



10.) Blue forest petrified wood near Granger, WY:

Be prepared to do a ton of digging.

11.) Fish fossils and some shark teeth near Farson, WY:

Just click on the link. 🙂


12.) Labradorite near Laramie, WY:

Proceed up canyon dirt road (12) until you reach the top plateau and it is flat. Rocks there have a different variety of lab than down below. Various outcrops along the road contain specimens. In order to really find the good stuff in the main area, go on sunny day with a spray bottle, a rock hammer, chisel, and a 4-lb/10-lb sledge hammer. If you have a public-lands GPS map, you can proceed up the Plumbago Canyon road to the top, where people don’t go, and find some nice specimens lying on the roadside. The ranchers might harass you, but I just harass them back, since it’s public. I find the watermelon stone about halfway up the canyon.

Note: magnetite is also present. No, this won’t make you rich. That was a joke. If you’re really nice and want a piece, maybe I’ll send you some.

13.) Agatized fossil shells near Rock Springs, WY:

Public access. Drive up the garbage road toward White Mountain and park near the area with the in-ground tank, then follow the trails west into the lower hills. I’m out of the US as I update this revision, so I don’t have photos of the really good specimens…go figure. You can follow the formation’s exposure along a great length of the escarpment.

14. Wall of crystals found hiking Big Balls of Cowtown Trail.

Suitable for the advanced backpacker. See my details at this link.

15. Calcite for making lamps and also nice bots in roadside cut near Lander.

16. Vertebrate fossils near a lake.

Use caution. Exposed and subsumed vertebrate fossils of what amounts to a type of ancient alligator-type creature, as well as some others, can be found here.  However, there was some “trouble” with this in the recent past. Use caution, be respectful, and play by whatever the rules are now. (DO NOT TAKE ANY FOSSILS!) 

17. Peridot in ant hills and arroyos near Black Rock Butte.

Check ant beds in this area for peridot and other little gems. The ants use them for construction material. 🙂 There is of course another way to find larger pieces of peridot in the area…

The GPS coordinate I put up in the map at the top of the page is right by a place called “Black Rock,” which is an ultrapotassic, lamproite volcaniclastic exposure. The higher hills to the west (the mesas and buttes) are all ultrapotassic and mafic rocks. Zirkel Mesa to the west is actually remnants of exposed cinder cone volcanoes; the cinders can be found at Black Rock, too. I mention all this as it helps explain how to find the peridot.

Black Rock itself is ultrapotassic and in the past (and even still now) shed peridot. You can probably find it just about anywhere in the area, though I had good success looking along the eastern flank of Black Rock. The ant hills are basically everywhere if you get out and walk around, and your biggest issue will most likely be needing 4×4 to get there, and especially across the creek to the north. Additionally, you cannot progress away from Black Rock to the south—Google Earth and maps for the area are old, but mining concerns have cordoned off the area and dug huge swaths of land away, so you’ll just drive for 30 minutes and get stuck.

The GPS map below shows how I drove, as well as the two main places I walked which had good anthills. If you sign up for GaiaGPS (free, takes about 2 clicks, and I’ve never gotten mail from them, as it’s a husband+wife team that runs it), you can download the GPS data in the map to use on your phone or to import to Google Earth; just get the KML file. However, anywhere in the area around Black Rock should be good, and maybe to the west, too, which I haven’t checked yet. (I do not live in the US right now.)

18. Fantasy Canyon.

I’ll be adding to this in the coming years. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section below.


19. Ammonite-like fossils, kimberlite, etc. at Cedar Mountain

The link in the heading goes to what I consider the best egress point, whereas the pin in the main map shows a better location for finding material. Follow the four-wheeler track down the mountain and into the badlands below. You’ll see a lot of shining material along the tops of the exposure, but unless you really want some trona, you can ignore it.

This area was explored by a South African diamond company briefly but nothing came of it. Some areas appear to have kimberlite, though we haven’t used a diamond detector yet. The GemHunter (Dan Hausel) found peridot and garnets in the area, the latter of which can also be found NNW of Cedar Mountain. During my brief exploration, I didn’t have time to find the gems, but did get diverted by the thousands of exposed fossils. They were easy to dig out of formation, but even more easily were found eroded perfectly on the surface. Anyway, follow that Jeep trail down toward the “bottom,” where it first starts getting pretty flat, and you’ll find a ton of fossils.

I recommend accessing the area from highway 414 to the west, turning right just above Behunin Reservoir. 4×4 is recommended for this ingress, but if you access it from the table to the east, 4×4 is required. For reference, I’ve explored both directions in a small, Cheep Patriot [sic].

Let me know if this is useful or if I can improve it in any way! I’m here to serve you!


8 thoughts on “Rockhounding Locations in WY, MT; UT. (Rough Draft, 05/02/2021 Revision)

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I’m doing a fossil camping trip near the buttes to a quarry where you can pay to dig for fish fossils. I’m going to try and find a shark tooth location to surprise my husband. We are noobies at rockhounding and shark teeth have been on our bucket list.

    1. You are sure welcome. I will update this to add many locations as I am able, but it’s one of my lower priorities. 🙂 A number of the best locations are on private land, and while I’ve gotten access from the owners, I can’t list them here. If you have limited time and want to have the best chance of success, you might prefer to use either of these private areas which have fees associated:

      Fish Dig, Wyoming

      Fossil Safari, Wyoming

      Both are located near Kemmerer! (Said “Kimm-ur.”)

    1. Hi Katie,

      The GPS coordinate I put up is right by a place called “Black Rock,” which is an ultrapotassic, lamproite volcaniclastic exposure. The higher hills to the west (the mesas and buttes) are all ultrapotassic and mafic rocks. Zirkel Mesa to the west is actually remnants of exposed cinder cone volcanoes. I mention all this as it helps explain how to find the peridot.

      Black Rock itself is ultrapotassic and in the past (and even still now), shed peridot. You can probably find it just about anywhere in the area, though I had good success looking along the eastern flank of Black Rock. The ant hills are basically everywhere if you get out and walk around, and your biggest issue will most likely be needing 4×4 to get there, and especially across the creek to the north. Additionally, you cannot progress away from Black Rock to the south—Google Earth and maps for the area are old, but mining concerns have cordoned off the area and dug huge swaths of land away, so you’ll just drive for 30 minutes and get stuck.

      I am modifying this post to include a GPS map which shows how I drove, as well as the two main places I walked which had good anthills. If you sign up for GaiaGPS (free, takes about 2 clicks, and I’ve never gotten mail from them, as it’s a husband+wife team that runs it), you can download the GPS data in the map to use on your phone or to import to Google Earth. However, anywhere in the area around Black Rock should be good, and maybe to the west, too, which I haven’t checked yet. (I do not live in the US right now.)

      Blessings,

      -Luke

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