Friday, April 15, 2016

Ophir Canyon

Ophir Canyon is a short drive from Salt Lake City.  You can get to Ophir Utah by heading south from Tooele on Highway 36. Take a left on Highway 73. Follow the signs.
You can also get there by taking Highway 73 west from Lehi in Utah County. Lehi is 18 miles south of the I-215/I-15 interchange in Salt Lake City.

Gold was discovered in the canyon in the 1860s.  The name Ophir comes from the biblical Ophir, where King Solomon brought back gold to Isreal.

Sulfur and Copper are very noticeable in the mine tailings.  Lead, 
Silver and Zinc were the main minerals recovered.  Very little 
Gold was mined.

There are many diversions just off the main road.
A hillside of tailings provided many treasures for the kids to bring home.
It's lose rock so make sure they're careful and wearing appropriate
footwear.  They'll be covered in a rust colored dust in minutes.

The population of Ophir is about 40.  Over the years the
number of inhabitants has risen and fallen, mostly fallen.

Reminders of the Mining history of Ophir Canyon abound. Ophir Utah is a great example of a living ghost town. There are still a few old buildings lining the streets. There are some new homes. A few new cabins. And places to camp further up the canyon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Topaz Mountain is part of the Thomas Range in Utah. The trip takes about 2 1/2 hours from Salt Lake City. The closest town to Topaz Mountain is Delta. Heading South on I-15 you take the second Nephi exit(225) and head West on HWY 132 for 33 miles. Turn left and head South on HWY 6 for 6 miles until you reach Brush Wellman Rd. Turn right onto Brush Wellman Rd and drive 38 miles. You will see the sign to turn off the road, North to Topaz. This part is not paved. Head west once you reach the range for about .6 miles and enter Little Valley Wash. If you would like to try other spots just remember to look for the Rhyolite. Ask the old timer who has a couple trailers up there. He has a claim and knows everything about the area. A good person to make friends with. Don't look like a novice and just break out the crystals. It's best and more valuable to take them as specimens, inclusion to the Rhyolite. The Rhyolite is white rock and you want to open the soft pockets. Look for vegetation growing from seams in the rock for your best chance to find the Topaz. Red Beryl can sometime be found as well. This stuff is rare and sells for about 2K per faceted carat. Again, better collected as a specimen. My cell phone actually got a signal out there and I was able to call home to Piper. I took the Mazda 626 but a truck with better clearance would have gotten me further. 4X4 isn't necessary. Agate, Apache Tears and Geodes aren't far so check out additional collection sites while in that county.

What to take:
lots of water and food
cell phone
gloves and sunglasses
hat and sunscreen
good hiking shoes or boots
first aid kit
cheap, long, flathead screwdriver for prying
sledge hammer, chisel and pry bar
cheap paint brush to brush away the dirt from the Topaz
toilet paper to wrap up your good specimens and other needs

The Rhyolite is the white rock on the mountain.

Topaz embedded as you will find it if you take it as a specimen.