ANTELOPE SPRINGS — Rather than take the kids to the museum again this spring break, perhaps you should take them on an actual fossil-hunting outing.
Located about 50 miles west of Delta is U-DIG, a 40-acre quarry that’s loaded with self-serve trilobites. And it’ll be open for several days in March and early April to accommodate families who are looking for an out-of-the-box adventure.
Owner Shayne Crapo said that his family has been collecting trilobites in the Antelope Springs area for generations. They quickly realized just how unique the fossil-rich area was, so they acquired a lease. Then, while enrolled in an entrepreneurship class at Brigham Young University, Crapo started his business, U-DIG.
The drive out to the U-DIG quarry is long and bumpy, but once you arrive, the process is fairly simple — use a hammer to split the limestone shale, which easily flakes into sheets. It’s in these seams that you’ll find your prize.
If you’ve never heard of a trilobite before, it’s likely that you’ve seen one. They’re actually a popular item in gift shops from coast to coast (and U-DIG supplies many of them). According to the U-DIG website, trilobites are a form of invertebrate marine life from more than 550 million years ago. Common species found at the quarry include elrathia kingi, asaphiscus wheeleri and peronopsis interstricta.
While the hunting can be hard work, especially on hot days, you’re likely to have success. Most visitors average 10-20 trilobites during a four-hour stint. And if you’re not having any luck, U-DIG employees are usually happy to help you find a fossil-laden vein.
It’s recommended that you bring your own hammers and bucket on every trip to the quarry. But if you forget, the quarry staff can hook you up with some tools. Additional items to bring include safety glasses and weather-appropriate clothing.
For pricing information and the current schedule, visit the website.
To get to U-DIG from Salt Lake City, you’ll follow I-15 south to Nephi. Once there, take Highway 6 southwest to Delta. From Delta, you’ll stay on Highway 6 for another 32 miles. When you reach the sign for Long Ridge Reservoir (between mile markers 56-57), you’ll turn right. You’ll also see a sign for U-DIG Fossils at the turnoff. From there, it’s a 20-mile drive on a relatively-smooth gravel road to the quarry.