Topaz Mountain is one of the peaks in the Thomas Mountain Range in Juab County, south-east Utah. The mountain is located on public lands managed by the BLM and is one of the best places in Utah for rockhounding. While Topaz Mountain itself and the area around isn't particularly scenic or even eye-catching, the gems and minerals that can be found there definitely are. The mountain's surroundings are arid and almost barren of anything but loose rocks, with just a sparse covering of sagebrush and dry, tufty grass on the valley floor and lower slopes. None of those are factors which serious rockhounders find off-putting though as they set out to search for topaz, opals and the rarer red beryl as well as amethyst, garnets, and hematite.
Most of the rockhounding on Topaz Mountain is done within the boundaries of the Topaz Mountain Rockhounding Recreation Area. There are no campgrounds of any kind in the recreation area, but dispersed camping for RVs and in tents is permitted throughout the area so long as a vehicle doesn't cause a blockage on any roadway. The closest developed campgrounds to Topaz Mountain are in the Yuba State Park or, for anyone wanting to enjoy some off-roading fun while RV camping in Utah, the Little Sahara Recreation Area. Two other alternatives that are not too far away are the Fishlake National Forest and the Great Basin National Park.
After you've finished scouring the earth for hidden gems, there are still lots of interesting things to do around Topaz Mountain. The dirt tracks running through the recreation area are great for hiking or mountain biking. There are interesting museums to visit in Delta, the DMAD Reservoir and the Gunnison Bend Reservoir for fishing, a public shooting range for anyone who wants to get in some target practice, and for winter visitors, the Delta Snow Goose Festival.
There are two routes to Topaz Mountain both originating from the US 6. If you're heading to the mountain from the south or west of Utah, you'll find the most convenient is the Brush Wellman Road between Delta and Lynndyl. The turn-off to the recreation area is signposted from the US 6. The Brush Wellman Road joins up with the Brush Highway part way along. They're both well-trafficked roads maintained by the BLM to allow easy access to the Topaz Mountain Recreation Area. The cross country drive will take you around an hour.
If you're traveling to Topaz Mountain from the north of Utah or have chosen to pitch camp at the Little Sahara Recreation Area, you'll find the Jericho Callao Road a closer option but one which involves a longer drive. The turn-off for the Jericho Callao Road is on the US 6 between Jericho and Lynndyl. Once you're heading into the backcountry, expect the trip to take about two hours.
RV campers motoring to Topaz Mountain after staying in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest should head to Austin, Nevada, where they can join the US 50 eastbound to Delta. It's a straight through trip that will take about five hours or less if you're going to the campground in the Great Basin National Park. If you've been RV camping in the Domingueuz-Escalante National Conservation Area in Colorado, program Grand Junction into your rig's navigational app and from there you can hit the I 70 westbound. It's a scenic drive that will take you right through the heart of the Manti-La Sal National Forest and the northern region of the Fishlake National Forest. All told, unless you stop off for a break or make a detour to visit the Capitol Reef National Park, you'll be on the road for about five and a half hours.
The campgrounds at the Yuba State Park are convenient spots to pitch up if you're planning on visiting Topaz Mountain. The state park is located just a one hour's drive west of Delta on the US 50 and as well as having great campgrounds also offers lots of options for outdoor recreational activities such as boating, swimming during the summer, water sports and ziplining. The Yuba State Park has two campgrounds that are accessible to RVs up to ninety feet in length. Both campgrounds are pet-friendly.
The Painted Rocks Campground is located on the north-east shore of the reservoir and can be reached from the rural community of Levan along the UT 28 southbound. The campground has almost forty paved pitches furnished with sheltered picnic tables, fire rings, and grills. Some campsites have standard electric and water hook-ups, but not all. On-site amenities include vault toilets and drinking water during the open season which runs from mid-May to mid-September. The campground closes in winter.
The Oasis Campground is located on the north-west shore of the reservoir and can be reached by driving along the UT 78 westbound from Levan. The campground is open all year. Reservations are only required during the peak season. There are almost thirty campsites for RVs many of which have lake views. All campsites are paved and have picnic tables, grills, and fire rings.
To go rockhounding is the main reason most people visit Topaz Mountain. It's a natural treasure chest of hidden gems and minerals that just begs to be explored. There are no amenities or water sources in the Topaz Mountain Rockhounding Recreation Area so all rockhounders need to go fully equipped with all they'll need to dig out the gems and keep themselves fed and watered while they're there.
The effort is well worth it though as you could bag some amazing topazes and opals as well as lots of other flashy minerals to add to your collection.
One of the most exciting OHV recreation areas in Utah is just forty minutes drive from Delta. The Little Sahara Recreation Area encompasses more than sixty thousand acres of sand dunes, including the seven hundred foot high Sand Mountain, creating a unique landscape to challenge all levels of ATV riders and drivers.
The entire site is geared to off-roading and there are even an on-site engine shop, visitor center, and fire station. The dunes are also a popular spot for fat biking, sand skiing, and sandboarding, so you don't even need an ATV to enjoy some outdoor fun there.
The dirt tracks and roadways around Topaz Mountain are great for a spell of outback hiking, but it's a landscape that's not overly scenic or prolific with wildlife. If you've pitched camp in your RV at the Little Sahara Recreation Area and you're a nature lover, you'll want to explore the nine thousand acres of vehicle-free terrains that have been set aside by the BLM to form the Rockwell Outstanding Natural Area.
There are deer and antelope inhabiting the area as well as multiple species of reptiles and birds. Just half an hour's drive from the Little Sahara Recreation Area is another BLM managed property that is also well worth exploring on foot. The Rockwell Wilderness Study Area contains over five thousand acres of Juniper forests, sand dunes, and a rare kind of saltbrush, and it's a great place for raptor spotting while you're trekking through the desert-like environment.
Don't be misled by the name. Head to the Topaz Museum in Delta and you won't find exhibits on gemstones. The museum is dedicated to the history of Japanese-Americans that were interred at the Topaz Camp during WW2. On display at the museum are photographs, documents, artwork, and artifacts relating to those held prisoner there.
Although not much remains, the museum also organizes tours to the original site of the camp where there are still rock gardens visible as well as the monuments that were erected some decades after the camp was closed.
While there's no water on Topaz Mountain, there are several great places nearby where you can get in a decent session of fishing. There are two reservoirs in Delta, the DMAD Reservoir to the north-east and the Gunnison Bend Reservoir to the west. You'll also find there's first-class fishing at Yuba Lake in the Yuba State Park.
Tackle up at any one of them and whether you fish from the shore or from a boat - there are launch ramps at all three - you could catch a catfish, bass or walleye.
If you're heading to Topaz Mountain to go rockhounding around the third week in February, don't miss attending the Delta Snow Goose Festival. It's a two-day event in celebration of the arrival of the snow geese on their migratory flight to Canada. Thousands of snow geese land on the frozen waters of Gunnison Bend Reservoir to rest and feed. See the geese then browse the art and crafts fair or the handmade quilt exhibition in the town. The energetic can also participate in the Wild Goose Chase a five or ten-kilometer fun walk or run around the reservoir that coincides with the arrival of the geese and the festival.