The owner of Hike St. George recently spoke with an agent in the Arizona BLM office and has the following information to pass on: “[I] learned that the mine does have an active mining claim on it, and the owner of that claim has requested that people do not enter the pit, or break out new chunks of gypsum. The claimant has actually enjoyed the excitement about the mine, and agrees that it is fun for explorers of all ages to find and learn about the minerals in the earth, but is concerned about people getting hurt and the liabilities associated with it.
As we wrapped up the conversation, I asked if I should discourage people from visiting the mine and he told me that people are not discouraged from going, but that the claimant would like people to stay out of the pit. They are welcome to visit and take pieces of gypsum that are laying about outside the pit.
So, we ask that you respect the requests of the claimant and visit the site for its educational value, and as a fun day trip, but take only pictures and perhaps a few small pieces of mineral that are laying around as your evidence.”
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.