Nestled in a remote valley known as the Wheeler Amphitheater, this family-owned quarry has been in operation for nearly fifty years, Featuring the vast trove of Cambrian period invertebrates, the Wheeler Shale is to arachnomorph arthropods as the Burgess Shale is to soft-bodied invertebrates.
This quarry is one of the densest deposits of Cambrian trilobites in the world. Trilobites, hard-shelled, invertebrate marine creatures, roamed the ocean floor 500 million years ago. Trilobite fossils of over 8 species can be found relatively easily due to their near-perfect preservation in the easily split limestone shale.
At U-DIG Fossils in Delta, Utah, owners of this prehistoric cemetery provide fossil hunters the opportunity to find the perfect specimen. The U-DIG staff exposes fresh rock with an excavator on a regular basis. Tools are provided and the average visitor finds ten to twenty trilobites in a four-hour period.
Know Before You Go
Make sure to bring sturdy work gloves, long pants, and sturdy boots- this is a working quarry and that shale is sharp. The U-DIG quarry is located in a remote part of the Great Basin Desert in Utah. GPS maps of the area are wildly inaccurate and mobile phone navigation will not work. The closest automotive fuel source is located in Delta, Utah, nearly fifty miles east, so make sure to fill up before leaving. While portable toilets are on site, bring plenty of water and snacks. Also, make sure you have a spare tire and jack. The roads are maintained, but as with any unpaved road in the desert, they can quickly become impassible. At minimum, all-wheel drive vehicles are highly suggested. Vehicles that do not have a full-sized spare tire are also highly discouraged. Directions can be found on the U-DigFossils website.