Just across the Utah state line, south of Washington Fields Utah, you can find an old mining site where they would mine for gypsum. We refer to this as the Old Gypsum Mine, but it has many names. One of which is Sparkle Mountain or Glitter Mountain. Sparkle and Glitter Mountain are fitting names because as you approach the old mine, in the sunlight the gypsum sparkles and sparkles. This is a great outing for the family on a random afternoon. This is also a great trip for cub scouts!
Getting to the mine can be the trickiest part of the adventure, but once you’ve been, it’s easy to find it the next go-round. The new highway (Southern Parkway) has provided easy access to the exit you need to take if coming from the Bloomington area of St. George. Head towards the airport/Washington Fields area and take the last available exit and turn right, and then turn right again heading south on the dirt road (Arizona Strip).
If coming from Washington City, head east on Telegraph and turn south on Washington Fields Road. Follow this road out past Staheli Farms, and continue past the new developments (such as Stucki Farms). Once you arrive at the Southern Parkway (do not enter the parkway), head south on the dirt road towards the Arizona Strip. At the Arizona border you will see some houses, continue south. This is the part most people get lost at. Once the green fields / houses are in view, there will be a slight Y in the road. Make sure you turn RIGHT. You’ll feel like you want to go staight (or left-most of a Y), but don’t. If you do, the road will come to an end and coverts to a trail.
As you continue, you will hit another Y in the road and you want to veer LEFT. On Google Maps it is called “Sunshine Trail Road”.
From the Arizona border, it is approximately 1.6 miles. The mine will be on the right hand side of the road (to the west). The road is accessible and 4-wheel drive is not required. We made the trek in our minivan and it was just fine.
Gypsum looks a bit like flaky glass, but I assure you it is not. Gypsum is used in the production of drywall, plaster and fertilizer. Although it looks like a rock (well, sort of) it is actually a mineral.
When you go, bring a bucket or tub to take back some of the gypsum. My kids also loved “mining”. I brought a screwdriver and hammer and let them dig away. There isn’t much else to do out here, so don’t plan on making a day of it, but it is definitely worth the visit. Close to home, free, places to climb, and treasures to take home. Can’t beat that!
***UPDATE: We were recently notified by another family that they received a ticket for “using tools to mine”. They were told that someone bought the mining rights to this area and they don’t care if you pick up pieces that have fallen or are loose, but you cannot use tools to mine. This is simply a warning; use tools at your own risk.***
Fun Items to Bring With You:
- 5 gallon bucket
- Hand shovels
- Pick or Screwdriver
- Rubber Mallet
- Hand Rake
Bring anything your kids can dig with, carry their treasures back in, or pick with (to break off chunks stuck in the ground).