At Mile Marker 70, just outside of Escalante is a dirt road. A lovely dirt road. A dirt road that may not always be passable in rain or snow. We quickly came upon a sandy bank that stopped us in our little white Camry. My husband, being the safe one, went and walked the sand bank and looked at it from every angle. He came back and told us it was probably not passable.
To say that I was disappointed was an understatement. We started the car around all the while I was complaining loudly.
See, the whole reason we ended up in Escalante was because of the Moqui Balls. 8 years ago I found a moqui ball in the mines of Old Iron Town (I was convinced it was a large musket ball, until my husband convinced me otherwise) and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Moqui Rocks/Marbles/Martian Blueberries are formed out of sandstone and then usually covered in iron oxide, creating a very solid exterior, some are quite heavy.
I love rocks, round rocks, rocks with crystals, just rocks in general. It’s becoming a problem. I’ve seen photos of Moqui Balls on Pinterest for years that only fed my obsession.
Anyway, back to the dirt road. I convinced the husband that turning that car around would alter my life and destroy all my moqui ball dreams. He relented. We only bottomed out on the front and back. I always tell him that’s what cars are for to live a little and go places you can’t always go. The road after that was very passable, it looks like it’s even been graded recently.
Local Gal, Shari, gave us instructions on how to find the Moqui Balls. About 4 miles from the main road, you come upon a whole bunch of slick rock. Shari explained that during the monsoon months, the moqui balls get washed out of the sand and start rolling down the slick rock in piles.
Some were still embedded in the slick rock, showing how long the process really can be for these rocks to be exposed.
DO NO COLLECT
Since I already have a moqui ball (from public lands mind you) I wasn’t terribly sad about not being able to bring a moqui ball home. But it should be said, you cannot collect these, they are on National Park Lands, specifically Grand Staircase National Monument. It’s illegal and the fine is large. Read this article to read about how some of the moqui marbles are 2-4 millions years old. In Grand Staircase National Monument.
I forgot to ask if we could touch and pick up the moqui balls, but really, I couldn’t resist touching them.
We explored some of the slick rock, all the while pointing out all the moqui balls that were all different colors and shapes.
We spent about 45 minutes in 65 degree weather and it was still SUPER hot for some reason.
My husband found the only piece of shade on the slope.
My kids also loved looking for “balls.” We also found lichen moss. My mother in law thought that lichen grows mainly on the north side, so it can guide you if you get lost. Well, at least so you know which direction you are going.
It was the perfect little excursion through the desert, everyone loved it, especially ME!
Don’t forget, DO NOT COLLECT.
- Mile Marker 70, just outside of Escalante. Go 4 miles staying right.
- Do not go if raining or slushy, if you don't have a 4-wheel vehicle
- DO NOT COLLECT
- Take Water
- No Cell Phone Service
- No Toilets
A moqui marble removed from public lands, which denotes national parks, monuments and forests, is illegal. Unless the marble you have at home is from private lands, I recommend you do not advertise it being in your possession.