Utah will always hold a special place in my heart. For you see, this is my home state! When people think of Utah, they often think of highly religious people, and little else. Utah is so much more than this! It is home to a truly diverse landscape and amazing natural wonders. I live in the northern portion of the state, where we sit higher than Denver, Colorado, surrounded by mountains and forests. Southern Utah is a traditional desert.
I have metal detected in many locations in Utah. The ground here is highly mineralized which is indicative of metal ore, but sure can be a pain for metal detecting! Here are my top 13 locations for metal detecting in the Beehive State.
- 1. Fantasy Canyon
- 2. Moon Lake, High Uintas
- 3. St. George
- 4. Sand Hollow State Park
- 5. Wasatch Mountain State Park
- 6. Antelope Island State Park
- 7. Bear Lake State Park
- 8. Gold Hill Ghost Town
- 9. Bullionville Ghost Town
- 10. Green River
- 11. Dixie National Forest
- 12. North Iron Springs Camping Area
- 13. Scofield State Park
- Metal Detecting Laws for Utah
- Metal Detecting Clubs in Utah
- Metal Detecting Treasures Found in Utah
- Metal Detecting Resources in Utah
- Metal Detector Stores in Utah
- Wrapping Up
1. Fantasy Canyon
Fantasy Canyon is a unique location with some of the strangest sandstone rock formations I have ever seen. It seems otherworldly when you walk around this small canyon area. The area is surrounded by oil drilling locations, but it is a tucked away little piece of paradise amid the northeastern Utah high desert.
Fantasy Canyon is on the eastern shore of what was once Lake Uinta. Sandstone and shale formed in the area, and the sturdier sandstone remains today. You can find some historic artifacts in this area while you enjoy the picturesque natural scenery!
How to Find Fantasy Canyon
From Vernal, travel east along Main Street/Highway 40 toward Naples. Turn right onto UT-45 for 20 miles. You will cross the Green River. A gravel road called Glen Bench Road will be on the right. Follow it for 13 miles, where you will see a sign for Fantasy Canyon, a further 4 miles ahead.
2. Moon Lake, High Uintas
Moon Lake is in the High Uinta Mountains, part of the Ashley National Forest north of Vernal. In 1938, a dam was constructed to divert irrigation water. The area is known for finding artifacts from the early 1900s, along with newer items dropped by visitors and campers.
Spanish mining activities and Native American lore fill the area. In the book titled “Lost fold of the Uintah,” Gale Rhoades writes about the gold mine in the area known as Timber Mine. The Lost Rhoades Gold mine is said to be somewhere in the Uintas, too!
This area is stunningly beautiful, but also full of ghost and monster stories. The Moon Lake Resort website details several encounters with paranormal entities in this area. Click here to read more! https://www.moonlakeresort.com/maps-and-directions/
How to Find Moon Lake
From Vernal, head west on Highway 40 towards Roosevelt. In Roosevelt, stay on the same westward heading onto 2000 West. Turn left on Hancock Cove Road.
This road turns North, so continue north to stay on Hancock Cove. Turn left on Bluebell Road. Turn right onto UT-87. This road will curve northwest and become 20800 W/Moon Lake Road.
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3. St. George
St. George is in southwestern Utah, near the Arizona border. This is a truly desert city, with beautiful red-rock cliffs surrounding the area. The area was settled in 1861 and has the perfect climate for year-round metal detecting. Be aware that summertime temperatures can reach 110 degrees or higher, so hydrate constantly!
There are public BLM lands known as the Three Corners, where Arizona, Nevada, and Utah meet. Because the area has been inhabited by Mormon settlers since the mid-1800s, and Native American tribes before that, the area is rich in relics. You may also find some gold in the area! Make sure you are not on someone’s active gold claim!
Metal Detecting Tip: I’ve got the full details for metal detecting on BLM Land read it 👉 Can You Metal Detect on BLM Land
How to Find St. George
From I-15 in Salt Lake City, head south for 300 miles. I-15 runs right through St. George.
4. Sand Hollow State Park
Sand Hollow is a massive, 20,000-acre park, and most of it is BLM land, so it is free to metal detect! The area features 15,000 acres of red sand dunes and the Sand Hollow Reservoir. This is a newer State Park, opened in 2003, and lies near the town of Hurricane, Utah. The area was settled in the late 1890s and was used for agricultural purposes.
The area around Sand Hollow is rich with metal detecting opportunities. You can find artifacts from the first settlers here, as well as newer items like jewelry, coins, and trash targets.
How to Find Sand Hollow State Park
From Salt Lake City, take I-15 south for 290 miles. Take the exit for Highway 9, toward Hurricane. Follow this to the junction of Highway 7, and head south.
5. Wasatch Mountain State Park
Wasatch Mountain State Park is another massive State Park, at 23,000-acres. The area is a year-round park with 122 camping and picnic sites, restrooms, showers, utility hookups, cabins, and overnight group camping areas. Wasatch Mountain was the host of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games at Soldier Hollow. The venue is still open to the public.
The area was settled in the late 1890s, so several historic locations are found within. You can find a slew of relics, new and old, in Wasatch Mountain State Park.
How to Find Wasatch Mountain State Park
From Heber City, take Highway 189 southwest to Highway 113. Turn north toward Midway. In Midway, turn left onto 1050 North. Turn left onto Cari Lane, then north onto Warm Springs Drive. Wasatch Mountain State Park will be on the left.
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6. Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island is a 42-square mile island in the Great Salt Lake. It is forbidden to metal detect and dig on the banks of the Great Salt Lake near the Salt Air, but Antelope Island is a good place to check. If the lake level drops, Antelope Island becomes a peninsula rather than an island.
Antelope Island has a history dating back over 2,000 years, to when the Fremont people lived in the area. The island is home to several of their camps. In the 1600s, Spanish explorers came upon the area.
Mining was also common during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and oil rigs during the early 1900s. With the rich history of Antelope Island, you can find all manner of artifacts while metal detecting.
How to Find Antelope Island State Park
From Salt Lake City, head north on I-15. Take the exit for Antelope Drive. Antelope Drive turns into a causeway leading to the island.
7. Bear Lake State Park
Bear Lake is partly in Utah, and partly in Idaho. This area features brilliant blue waters and sandy beaches. It is a great place to fish, boat, and camp. The park is called the “Caribbean of Utah.” The lake was discovered by an explorer for the North West Fur Company in 1819.
Prior to this, the area was used by Native Americans. Rendezvous Beach within the park is so named due to historic rendezvous of Native Americans and fur trappers in the 1820s.
The area is a great place to metal detect. You can find artifacts from the early fur trappers, Native Americans, and newer items dropped by visitors.
How to Find Bear Lake State Park
From Salt Lake City, head north on I-15. Take the exit for Highway 30 in Riverside, and head east. Turn north on Main Street/Highway 91 in Logan, then right onto Highway 89 heading east. Highway 89 leads to Bear Lake State Park.
8. Gold Hill Ghost Town
Gold Hill is deep within Utah’s west desert, near the Nevada border. The famous mining camp Gold Hill was established in the 1890s and named after the gold bearing mountain east of the town. Aside from gold, prospectors found copper, silver, tungsten, lead, and arsenic here.
The town boomed and busted several times. During World War I, arsenic was in great need, so the mines were reopened. With the closure of the war, the town declined once again.
No one lives in Gold Hill anymore, but several buildings remain to explore. Be aware these buildings may not be sturdy, so take caution! You may still be able to find some ore in the area, or relics from the town’s mining past.
How to Find Gold Hill
From Salt Lake City, take I-80 west to Wendover, Nevada. Take I-93 south for about 30 minutes and you will see a sign pointing east for Gold Hill.
9. Bullionville Ghost Town
In the 1880s, a prospector was searching the High Uintas for gold. He found more copper than gold, but several mines cropped up anyway. Bullionville was established to support the many mines in the area. When the copper veins dried up in the early 1900s, the town declined. The Civilian Conservation Corps breathed new life into the town in the 1930s when it established a camp there.
No residents live in Bullionville today. The town’s rich mining history makes it a great place to metal detect. You may find some copper or gold in the multitude of tailings around the area. You may also find some artifacts of the town’s former inhabitants and miners. Bullionville is listed as a true “Ghost Town” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ghost_towns_in_Utah
How to Find Bullionville
From Vernal, head north on Highway 191. Turn onto Red Cloud Loop road heading west. You will pass East Park and continue to where the road turns toward Kane Hollow. A small road up a steep hill between some old cabins leads to Bullionville.
Utah is a beautiful state to explore. From the high elevation forests and lakes to the southern and western deserts, the state has much to offer….
Utah will always hold a special place in my heart. For you see, this is my home state! When people think of Utah, they often think…
10. Green River
The town of Green River was once a place where Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch hung out (fun side note: My great-great Grandfather was the first Sheriff of Vernal, Utah, and had many dealings with Cassidy and his gang). The Green River carves a path across Utah, for approximately 730 miles, and is a major tributary of the Colorado River.
Green River was known for uranium mining during the 1940s through the 1960s. The Air Force built the Green River Launch Complex outside of town in the mid-1960s. The Amtrak national passenger rail system runs through Green River. The area is a great place to search for relics from the past, as well as newer items dropped like coins and jewelry.
How to Find Green River
From I-15 in Salt Lake City, head south to the I-70 exit. Head east. I-70 runs right through the Green River.
11. Dixie National Forest
Dixie National Forest lies between the Great Basin and Colorado River in southern Utah. This area ranges from desert canyon gorges to high mountain forests and alpine lakes.
Dixie National Forest stretches for 170 miles and includes 2 million acres of land. The forest is surrounded by 3 National Parka and 2 National Monuments, both of which are off-limits to metal detectorists, so stay within the National Forest!
The area is a popular camping location and has been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans and settlers to the state. You will have the opportunity to find relics from the past, and newer items in this forest while taking in the spectacular views!
How to Find Dixie National Forest
Dixie National Forest lies along Highway 12, south of Grover and north of Boulder.
12. North Iron Springs Camping Area
North Iron Springs is near Dyer Mountain, the home of the Dyer Mine. Dyer Mine is a privately held mine, but the area around it is public land. I have camped in this area multiple times, and have found old buttons, and what we believe to be native silver! Dyer Mine is known for producing copper and silver, so the area has lots of ore to detect!
How to Find North Iron Springs Camping Area
Follow Highway 191 north to Red Cloud Loop. North Iron Springs Camping Area is on the left heading toward Red Cloud Loop.
13. Scofield State Park
Scofield State Park is a beautiful place to camp, fish, hike, and boat. It lies high in the Manti-La Sal Mountains. The area has campgrounds near the reservoir and is open year-round, including ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter. The area features a 2,800-acre lake and sits 7,600 feet above sea level.
The area has been used by settlers to Utah since the late 1800s, and previously by Native Americans. The dam was built to store and divert irrigation water throughout the region.
How to Find Scofield State Park
From Soldier Summit, head south on Highway 6 to the junction of Highway 96. This leads to Scofield State Park.
Metal Detecting Tip: In my experience, Utah has some extremely mineralized soils. This has been a problem for some metal detectors. The high mineral content makes them give false signals and overload and shut down on occasion. One tip I have for you is to use the beach setting if your metal detector has one. This setting filters out salt and other minerals, giving cleaner signals.
Metal Detecting Laws for Utah
Utah National Parks (The Mighty 5, as they are affectionately known)
Metal detecting is strictly forbidden in Utah’s National Parks. Utah is home to 5 National Parks, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. These parks provide amazing scenery and hiking opportunities and show the true diversity of the landscape in Utah. Unfortunately, you will not be able to metal detect in these parks.
For information about Utah’s National Parks, click here: https://www.visitutah.com/Places-To-Go/Parks-Outdoors/The-Mighty-5
Metal Detecting Tip: One of my most popular articles is about getting permission for private land. Read it here 👉 How to get permission to detect private property
Utah State Parks
Utah is home to 43 State Parks, and Utah State Parks allow metal detecting with a permit only. Rules state that you may not remove any item found within a Utah State Park and must surrender it to the Park Authority. As with all locations, double check this information with the park rangers at whichever Utah State Park you would like to metal detect.
For more information about Utah State Parks, visit this link: https://stateparks.utah.gov/
Metal Detecting Tip: After years of swinging my machine, I’ve come to realize find treasure is cool, but also having a conservation ethic is better. If you read just a little bit about the 1906 Antiquities Act you understand the idea of perseveration and conservation. Here’s a link. 👉 Antiquities Act U.S. Department of Interior
Utah BLM Land
The Bureau of Land Management in Utah manages approximately 23 million acres of public lands in Utah, or 42% of the state. These public lands are open to metal detecting and show the diversity of the landscape in Utah.
From alpine mountain peaks, red-rock canyons, deserts, forests, and high desert mountain areas, Utah is a great place to find all sorts of treasures while metal detecting!
Utah National Forest Land
Metal detecting is permitted on Utah National Forest land. This is one of my personal favorite areas to metal detect.
I am in a small town in northeastern Utah, and there are mountains surrounding my home. Fun fact, my area is home to 1 of only 2 mountain ranges in the entire world that run east and west! Taking the metal detector camping is my favorite thing to do in the spring, summer, and fall.
For more information on metal detecting in Utah’s National Forests, click here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5261774.pdf
Utah is home to various Native American artifacts, artifacts from early Mormon settlers, and a wide variety of precious and semi-precious ore. Please be respectful of any Native artifacts you may find. There are 8 distinct Tribal Nations in the state of Utah, so any artifact you find should be reported to Utah Division of Indian Affairs: https://indian.utah.gov/tribal-nations/
Metal Detecting Clubs in Utah
- Utah Gold Prospecting Club – This club has between 200 and 300 members and is very active. Gold prospecting has a long history in Utah, and these folks are a great group to visit with and learn from! https://www.ugpc.org/
- Metal Detecting Club Northern Utah – This is an active Facebook community with over 1,000 members. They are great at helping you identify your finds, and potentially meet up with other detectorists in the Northern Utah area! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1463112550586875
Metal Detecting Treasures Found in Utah
There are many treasures to be found, and previously found, in Utah. Gold, precious ores, semi-precious ores, Mormon gold, old Mormon artifacts, Native American artifacts, and newer items like jewelry and coins, can all be found here.
One detectorist found an engagement ring that was dropped by some visitors from Florida. They had been snowboarding in Park City and decided to visit Antelope Island State Park on their last day in Utah, where the future husband proposed.
The beautiful, custom ring was lost that same day, as it was too big for the bride-to-be’s finger, but she insisted on wearing it. The couple was at the Ice Castles in Midway, searching hopelessly through the snow. They happened upon an ad for Ring Finders, where a man named Van Tassell came to their rescue.
Read more about this heartwarming story here: https://www.ksl.com/article/50340601/utah-metal-detectorist-finds-lost-engagement-ring-hours-after-proposal
Metal Detecting Resources in Utah
- Silver Recyclers has a great page dedicated to metal detecting in Utah. Learn more here: https://www.silverrecyclers.com/blog/metal-detecting-in-utah.aspx
- The folks at MDHTALK provide a great resource for metal detecting information in Utah. Click here to learn more: https://www.mdhtalk.org/cf/city-regulation.cfm?st=UT
Metal Detector Stores in Utah
- Stephen’s Metal Detectors – There is no website listed for this store, but it is in Saratoga Springs, Utah, with a listed phone number of 801-580-7875
- Cabella’s – Cabella’s is an outdoor retailer and sells a few different types of metal detectors: https://stores.cabelas.com/us/ut/lehi/2502-west-cabela-s-boulevard.html?y_source=1_Mzk4NjcxNi03MTUtbG9jYXRpb24ud2Vic2l0ZQ==
- KSL Classifieds – KSL Classifieds is used by many residents in Utah and Idaho. It is run by a local news station and has all manner of items listed for sale. There are many metal detectors and accessories listed on this site: https://classifieds.ksl.com/search/keyword/metal%20detector
Metal Detecting Tip: Be sure you obtain a permit from the State Park ranger if you plan on metal detecting within any of Utah’s State Parks. Permits are required to stay within the law. These are simple and quick to obtain and will keep you out of trouble!
Utah is a beautiful state to explore. There are so many different types of terrains, all reachable within a few hours. Utah has been inhabited by Native American Tribes for centuries, and Spanish and Mormon settlers for around 200 years. There is no shortage of artifacts to find in this beautiful state! Enjoy the natural beauty all around you while you explore.