U-Dig Fossils: Well Worth the Drive in Utah

Digging for trilobites at U-Dig Fossils in Utah
Digging for trilobites at U-Dig Fossils in Utah

A few years ago, before our dinosaur bone digging days, an episode of Cash and Treasures on the Travel Channel peaked my interest in digging for trilobites. The episode took place at U-Dig Fossils in Utah, and since we were heading through Utah anyway, I talked my husband into the detour.

It is a detour.

A roughly 52 miles west of Delta type of detour. Plus, the last twenty miles to get to the dig site is on a dirt road. If you’ve ever thought, “I’m in the middle of nowhere,” you need to verify by heading here. That said, a trip to U-Dig Fossils is splendid indeed.

A digging for trilobite demo
A digging for trilobite demo

Located in a landscape of limestone shale, U-Dig Fossils is on a 40 acre site that was once  inhabited by marine life 500 years ago. Trilobites, hard-shelled creatures that trolled the bottom of the sea, have turned into excellent fossils that aren’t hard to find if you know just how to crack open flat sheets of shale. If you don’t have a clue–we didn’t, the folks that who work at U-Dig Fossils are happy to help by demonstrating how to get the best results. This means uncovering trilobites that are intact and not broken in half by a sloppy chisel and hammer technique. Within a few hours we found several trilobites of various quality.

  It just seems like it's in the middle of nowhere.
It just seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere.

Along with spending quality time with each other, my family (a teen, a pre-adolescent, and my husband) enjoyed the company of other fossil diggers. While we are casual fossil diggers, there are some folks who are serious about their efforts. These folks are an encylopedia of other sites in the U.S. that offer a bounty of prehistoric goods.

If you do go in the summer like we did, head out early. If you don’t, plan to swelter in the sun like an egg frying on a sidewalk. Seriously, it gets hot.

  • Bring a lot of drinking water and snacks.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses, or at least sunglasses.
  • Expect that your car will get dusty on the outside from traveling along the dirt road. There’s a car wash in Delta.
  • Stay overnight in Delta, although we stayed overnight in Filmore further away because rooms in Delta were booked. Staying somewhere close by will ensure you can get an early morning start to avoid the heat of midday.
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An uncovered treasure
An uncovered treasure

If you go during cooler months, bring a lightweight jacket. If you don’t have equipment, you can borrow some, although it’s recommended that you bring a lightweight gardening gloves. Safety glasses are also recommended. Because you will find trilobites, bring a container to bring them with you.

U-Dig Fossils provides the chisels, hammers and a bucket for collecting what you find.

The cost depends upon length of time of your dig and your age. There are 2 hour, half day and full day prices.  Ages 7-16 pay $16 for 2 hours to $42 dollars for all day. Adults, age 17 and older pay $28 for 2 hours to $70 for all day.

We were there for 2 hours. The site opens for the season March 20.  Check the U-Dig Fossil website for specific dates and hours and for exact directions on how to get there.

Post and photo courtesy of Jamie Rhein

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