November 2, 2014

Jaleta Clegg on Rockhounding in Utah

Utah is a great place to learn about geology. First off, it's a desert so the landscape isn't covered by thick forests or plant growth. Don't get me wrong, we still have plenty of forests and plants, but we also have lots of rocks showing. It's easy to see the geology. Second, you can find every major type of rock and most ages of rock within a day's drive of Salt Lake City.

Head east into the Wasatch Mountains not just for great skiing but for some great metamorphic rocks, crystals, mineral deposits, and igneous intrusions. Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon are both beautiful drives for a day trip with plenty to see and do along the way. I love American Fork Canyon. It's five minutes' drive from my house and within fifteen minutes, I'm up high in the mountains away from the city and everyday life.

Head west from Salt Lake to the salt flats, where landspeed records are set. Keep going to the other side, well into basin and range territory, to find geode beds and fossil deposits. If you head southwest to Delta and keep going, you come to House Range, where every rock layer has trilobite fossils. Since it's mostly BLM land, collecting a few here and there as souvenirs is fine. If you want to guarantee you'll find one, there's a private company that offers guided digs on their land. Don't let the "dig" fool you. Most of the fossils are sitting out on the surface, ready for collection. Check the dry streambeds. I've found some lovely trilobites just waiting to be picked up.
Head farther south, to St. George, and you're in canyon country. Zion's National Park is well worth a visit for the spectacular sandstone cliffs. But if you head east of St. George, pretty much just outside the city limits, you find Snow Canyon. It's not as big as Zion's, but it's a lot less crowded and just as beautiful. Snow Canyon State Park offers nice campgrounds, day hikes, and lava tube caves to explore. If you go outside the campground at dusk and watch, you can see the bats flying out of the caves for the evening.

Utah has lots of rockhounding clubs if you're interested in collecting various specimens. Most of them hold a gem and mineral show at least once a year, where you can pick up cut and polished specimens as well as raw ones for a song.

Why do I care about geology? Because it's cool! I love it enough I got my degree in earth science education. I write science fiction and fantasy novels. Getting to create my own mountains and worlds and gems is so much fun. In my latest novel, I use crystals as a source of magical power for airships and robots.

I also can't resist a beautiful rock. I have pictures pinned on my walls of geological specimens. I have my own personal collection of crystals. I can't get enough of them.

Dark Dancer, a steampunk fantasy adventure -
A strange prophecy haunts the Seligh lords, rulers of the Fey and controllers of all magic in the Summerlands, a prophecy that foretells their fall. A banished Seligh lord rules the Winterlands with an iron fist and his pets, the balmorae, patrol the borders against all intruders, guarding the secrets hidden beneath his icy lair. A young woman rediscovers her heritage, a gift of magic and dancing that opens portals between worlds. She holds their fate in her hands.
All who live within the lands of the Fey must choose where they stand—beside the Dancer or opposed to her.
And trust that she won't destroy their world.

Find more books by Jaleta Clegg at
(Info provided by author) 


  1. I've never visited Utah but my younger son and his wife have and the photos they showed us were spectacular! Congrats on your new fantasy novel. It looks intriguing!

  2. Jaleta,

    You make Earth Science soooo much more interesting than in was back in 9th grade! Your love for the physical beauty and resources of Utah is obvious. I'd love to visit someday!


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