FEATURE — In this flashback episode of the “No Filter Show” co-hosts Paul Ford and Grady Sinclair head south of St. George to a mound that sparkles.
That’s not glass
Pure selenite is transparent and colorless, or very lightly colored, and easily splits into sheets. It is a variety of gypsum that forms in distinct crystals. Though it may appear to be a hill of broken glass, Sparkle Mountain is a mineral deposit. There are no mine shafts there today – just gouges in the hillside where the glittery mineral has been dug out.
This particular deposit is referred to locally by a variety of names, including the old mica mine and Sparkle Mountain. Selenite can easily be mistaken for mica but the two are are not the same.
The Arizona Geological Survey’s Mineral Resource Map (see inset) designates this deposit as gypsum.
Designations vary and an evaluation of the minerals in this area is beyond the scope of this “No Filter” feature.
It’s a made-for-kids natural delight
Perhaps the brightest note in this feature is that kids really love this place. It’s quick and fun for family night or a Saturday excursion. Bring water and a few snacks. Gloves are nice to have for the adventure but not particularly necessary. Small buckets will come in handy for collecting some glitter.
“We ran into a rockhound at the glitter pit,” Ford said after shooting this episode in 2015. “She said if you soak the selenite in pool water (chlorine), the ‘rocks’ clean up very nicely with added clarity.”
The mine is easily accessible and four-wheel drive is not required. Driving time is about 20 to 25 minutes from St. George.
Directions to the mine
The exact GPS location of this mine is: N 36 58.715 W 113 27.832
- From the Walmart in Washington, 625 W. Telegraph Street, head east on Telegraph Street.
- Turn south on Washington Fields Road.
- When you reach Southern Parkway, you are about 10 miles away.
- Head south on the dirt road (this takes you to the Arizona Strip).
- You will pass some houses at the Utah and Arizona border. When you see the houses, continue south.
- Drive another 1.6 miles and you will see Sparkle Mountain on the right side (to the west).
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.