In this post, the Lake Mountains once again prove how underrated they are for rockhounders. Maybe it is the proximity to the city or maybe it is the numerous people shooting their guns everywhere, but many pass right by without a second thought. This location is well known by many, but that hasn’t stopped it from producing amazing specimens for decades. The site used to be a private claim owned by John Holfert back in the 1970s. With the help of an excavator, he was able to dig deep enough to find some rather large pieces. You’ll find one such piece on display at the Natural History Museum at the University of Utah. From what I understand, the majority of the clay filled piles in this cut are actually the tailings from this operation. Nevertheless, many people are still able to find amazing quality cubes and clusters.
These cubes and clusters are made up of the mineral Goethite. Goethite, because of its chemical nature, often takes on the characteristics of other minerals. In this case that mineral is Pyrite. Many people claim that the deeper you dig at this location the more these specimens are made up of Pyrite with some only having a thin coating of Goethite and remaining completely Pyrite underneath. Dig down deep enough to the bedrock and you might just find some more world class sized clusters.
Since almost everything at this location is encrusted in a brownish or whitish clay, it is quite easy to lose track of these little specimens as you shovel and dig and explore about. Many people choose to bring along sifters to go through their own tailings often finding even better pieces than what they had dug out. I’ve found some of the best clusters even just walking the grounds. Some will tell you to search in the orange colored dirt. Some will tell you to search the grayish dirt. I’ll tell you to find what works for you and keep doing that. I’ve had mixed luck each time. I’ve included a picture in this post of a Pyrite cube cluster next to a Goethite Pseudomorph cluster for your reference.
You might even get lucky enough to find “pyritohedrons,” pentagonal dodecahedron-shaped pieces, although many have claimed that no such thing exists at this site. I’ve seen really tiny ones up on top where the road first comes onto the pits so I can only imagine that larger ones exist. At any rate, I’m excited to hear what you all find. Feel free to share in the comments.
From the intersection of 800 North and I-15 in Orem, Utah
2. Take exit 278 in American Fork and keep left (West) onto Pioneer Crossing (.4 miles)
3. Continue driving on Pioneer Crossing for another 5.3 miles
4. Turn left (South) onto Redwood Road and drive another 8.3 miles to the Dyno Nobel plant turnoff
5. Turn right (West) on the dirt road there (NOT the one into the Geneva gravel pit)
6. Drive 2.13 miles on this main dirt road
(Not quite a half mile in the road splits in three and you’ll take the middle one that wraps around and to the left)
(Note: at about 1.4 miles the road runs right through a large quarry)
7. Here you’ll find a road veering off to the left (South) through a ravine and up a small canyon. If your car is able to make it, go ahead and drive another .3 miles up and around to the top of the pits. Otherwise, you’ll have to walk up the road and pop on over to the site.
It appears you can also approach this location from the East side directly from Redwood Road through a series of roads up to the pits although I have not attempted this route yet.