As a kid, I was enjoyed picking up rocks to add to my meager and unimpressive (by geological standards) collection. Some things you never outgrow I suppose. I no longer collect rocks but do enjoy seeing interesting geology in the wild. Sand Creek, and really the whole area around Torrey, is a great area to see Petrified Wood in its geological setting. Kids and those with a geology interest will love spending an hour or more wandering under the sandstone cliff in Sand Creek looking at the various petrified wood. There are some fairly large and impressive specimens if you hunt around a bit.
Notes: The BLM does allow hobby collecting of petrified wood, but it is obviously a limited resource. Please leave it for future rockhounds to enjoy! Be mindful not to trample the area. Walk in washes and hard surfaces when possible.
I have heard that petrified wood may contain small amounts of uranium and perhaps should not be used as a necklace or carried around in your pocket, though I haven’t found anything definitive to support this.
Note: Reaching the trailhead requires at least high clearance, and at times true four wheel drive.
On the west side of the town of Torrey, turn north onto Sand Creek road. This is well signed. Reset your odometer as you turn onto Sand Creek Road off of highway 24. (The main road through Torrey)
0.75 miles - Junction, go left onto the dirt road.
( 12S 462190mE 4240290mN / N38° 18' 36" W111° 25' 57")
1.5 miles - North / South Route Jct just after crossing Sand Creek. Go right.
( 12S 461321mE 4241240mN / N38° 19' 06" W111° 26' 33")
2.3 miles - Junction. Go left toward Sand Creek.
( 12S 461481mE 4242320mN / N38° 19' 41" W111° 26' 26")
2.5 miles - Side road. Turn right. This side road heads toward the cliffs.
( 12S 461237mE 4242402mN / N38° 19' 44" W111° 26' 37")
2.8 ish miles - Park anywhere.
( 12S 460830mE 4242699mN / N38° 19' 54" W111° 26' 53")
From the parking area, let the wandering begin! No specifics are shown on the map, but small pieces litter the area next to the road. Wandering away from the road often leads to bigger specimens. We found up to about 6-inch diameter cross sections in a couple of places.
Historical Note: Petrified wood was an indicator for the early 1900's miners that Uranium ore very well may be nearby. Trees and logs petrified can lead to a source of uranium ore. Before Geiger counters, petrified wood was likely the best indication that Uranium ore may be nearby. This is why in the San Rafael Swell and Dirty Devil drainage you often find petrified wood and old uranium mines or prospects nearby.