15 Best Fossil Dig Sites Open To The Public
In just about any state some type of fossils have been found, cataloged, and displayed in museums for the public see and enjoy. But for some geological rockhounds or fossil enthusiasts, looking at a display behind glass is just not good enough.
If you enjoy collecting for yourself, here is a list of fossil dig sites open to the public. Remember that fossils often settle in concentrated areas, so there may be several sites in similar geological areas. A bit of research may keep you busy digging for a long time.
Caesar Creek in southwestern Ohio is a great place for beginners or children to make easy finds. No tools are allowed. A fossil permit is required but free of charge.
Fossils no larger than the palm of your hand may be kept, and there are a lot of them. Just observe the rules of the hunt and you'll be sure to have a treasure to show for it!
The pit is about one acre of exposed Mahantango shale. It's open year-round, and many of the most common fossils can be found there. You can keep any fossils you find. Happy hunting!
At least 200 species of fossils have been found in this discarded shale. Digging is free and your finds are your own. Most of the shale is soft and easy to break apart with your hands, so few tools are needed and the results can be addictive.
This is a primitive site. There is very little shade and no running water. So take steps to protect yourself from the elements and local critters. Take plenty of water. The hunting is free, and the finds are all yours.
Waders and a small trowel and sifting screen are among the recommended tools. You will be looking for fossils such as shark's teeth that erode from the banks and bed of the local brooks. Fossil hunting is allowed year-round.
The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument does not allow collecting. However, the Clare family allows excavating in their private quarry, just north of the National Monument, for a fee. Any major scientifically significant finds will be donated to the National Park Museum, but other finds may be kept by individual fossil hunters.
Most of the excavations are conducted through Ernst Quarry on specific days with a fee of $40 per person. For more information, visit http://www.sharktoothhillproperty.com/. Children must be at least 10 years old to participate in these digs.
park website has a list of materials you'll need to bring for the project.
Kids may also enjoy trying their hand at the provided mining sluice. Bags of rough may be purchased for the sluice activity. State park fees apply.
Some collecting areas are restricted and some fees apply. Not all areas are open year-round. The Matoaka Cottages area is privately owned and has summer cabin rentals for longer expeditions. Digging into the cliffs is not allowed in any area. If you enjoy both the beach and fossil hunting, this may be a great vacation destination.
Peace River is located near Port Charlotte in southwest Florida. Shark teeth, invertebrates, and plant fossils may be kept by individuals. A permit is recommended before you begin.
This is a river location, so be careful of weather and current conditions. Also, a shovel and sifter of some kind will make your hunting more productive. There are a couple of canoe rental services in the area to make your search easier.
The experience is an educational, hands-on way to generate interest and understanding of the fascinating world of fossil collecting. It will prepare you to properly handle any future fossil finds for your own collection. An admission fee does apply. For more information, go to https://wyomingdinosaurcenter.org/.
Admission tickets are required and may be purchased online. The quarry is only open certain days of the week. There is a list of recommended tools in the 'frequent questions' section of the website. You get to keep what you find, and it's rare that a visitor leaves empty-handed.
U-Dig contains one of the world's largest trilobite deposits. The fossils are in shale which is ready to split to find the treasures within. It's not unusual to find dozens, if not hundreds, of specimens in a single visit. This is a great experience for anyone, young or old, novice or pro.
Meals and tent accommodations are provided. Tours last about a week and cost about $1,000. A student discount is available. Twenty individuals are allowed in each outing. There's a lot of hiking and sitting and hard work in the sun. Enjoy. You're a paleontologist!
Sections of the park are periodically plowed up in order to bring these concretions to the surface.
The website has some excellent pictures of what you'll be looking for when you visit this site. I don't know if it's possible to find out if any area has been recently plowed, but it might be worth asking, especially later in the season.
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