(Good thing I archived it!)
Fossil Collecting sites in North America
The information contained herein was provided by fossil people who generously offered it over the mail lists or sent it directly to this page.
It is always of the utmost importance that collectors be fully respectful of private property rights, and adhere to all laws and /or rules. One bad apple can ruin it for everybody...
Certain collecting areas might present special safety concerns. Collectors should carefully assess if their physical condition, level of preparedness, or choice of clothing or footwear might pose any special risks. This is especially true with children. Be careful and
Last update -- February 24, 1997 (from fortunecity.com)
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Near Weiss Lake (formerly the Coosa River before they dammed it and covered up what were apparently very nice outcroppings of Conasauga shale that Walcott collected at) are outcroppings into some neat stuff that spans from the Ordovician right on through to the Devonian. Look for large roadcuts along I-59 in the mountainous. Some nice trace fossils (burrows, trails, tracks, etc.) can be found there, as well as a mish-mash of Paleozoic invertebrates (brachs, bryozoans, crinoid bits, rugose corals, and an occasional piece of a trilobite).
Near Montevalo, a road cut into a shale outcropping, contains numerous well-preserved graptolites on a shale ranging in color from light cream to black. It is accessed from State Road 25, west of I-65. Heading toward Montevalo on 25, at some point on the left will be a road cut that looks at first like it is composed entirely of red clay. Jutting out from the clay will be outcroppings of brownish colored shale, blackish colored shale, and many shades in between. The best hunting seems to be in the brownish colored shale which tends to form squarish blocks.
Near Huntsville, roadcuts going up the east side and near the top of Monte Sano Mountain on Hwy 431 (Governor's Drive) have fossiliferous limestone from the Mississippian. Some are practically made of crinoid segments, with brachiopods, blastoids, and other invertebrates common in the
Russell County, road cuts on each side of Route 165, 2.3 miles south of the city of Holy Trinity. Mollusks are found from the Blufftown Formation. The Bluffton is also exposed on Route 4, approx.1 mile east of US Route 4 below Coolspring Baptist Church east of Pittsview, on Route 13, 2.5 miles SE of intersection with Route 29, and on Route 39, 0.3 miles south of intersection with Route 165.
Russell County, Route 51, 11.1 miles north of Hurtsboro. Large numbers of Ostrea cretacea are found from the Eutaw Formation.
Russell County, on the road cut on NE side of the intersection between US 431 and Route 165, occasional shark teeth are found within the Eutaw Formation.
Bullock County, road cuts on US 82 from the western city limits of Union Springs to west of intersection with Route 7. Exogyra erraticostata, oysters, mollusk casts, and shark teeth are found in the Cusseta Sand.
Barbour County, in roadcuts along both sides of Route 97, 3.8 to 4.0 miles north of intersection with US 431, NW of Eufaula, oysters, ray, and sawfish teeth are found in the Ripley Formation.
Lowndes County, roadcuts along Route 263 from 0.4 to 3.3 miles south of intersection with Route 21 expose the Ripley Formation. Exogyra costata, Flemingostrea subspatulata, casts of mollusks, oysters, and rare echinoids and ammonites are found.
The best paleozoic locality in the state is near Payson, a little town is a couple of hours NE of Phoenix. Once there go 10 miles East to where the road makes a fairly sharp bend N. (If you get to Kohl's Ranch Resort, you've gone too far.) Here the roadcuts and one wash where you will undoubtedly see others collecting, are the Naco Gp. (Pennsylvanian) and abundantly fossiliferous. The dominant two fossils are the brachiopods Composita sp. and Productus sp. From this spot eastwards for a few miles all the roadcuts are fossiliferous with the same Gp.
Winkleman, AZ. - Roadcuts near Winkleman, south of Globe, along AZ-77, contain fossils of the Naco Group, marine Penn/Perm in high limestone cliffs interbedded with thin layers of shale. This site is used by the paleo. classes of the U/Az so the best time to go is winter, and just before the fall session starts. It can get pretty hot here so sunscreen & hats are a must. If you walk up the spillway you can find large shale exposures on the old highway (barely recognizable now). The most common fossils are crinoidal, with abundant columnal segments some 1 cm diameter. Some trilobites have been found here and brachiopods. Do not park along the road or you will be ticketed. There are pull-outs on the opposite side.There can be rattlers, desert centipedes (up to 6" length) and scorpions in the warmer weather so gloves are wise. Photos of the site can be seen at: http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~rhill.
Coalinga, arroyos and washes immediately south of town are a reasonable source of fossils. Be careful of private property in the area. There's a nice mining and historical museum in the town that's well worth visiting too, including a good minerals display. (Coalinga is located in central CA, along Interstate 5.)
At Los Olivos, north of Santa Barbara, there are lots of road cuts with NICE collecting; mostly jasper/nephrite combinations but some fossils, you need to go into the hills above the town to get to these road cuts.
East of Carpinteria, between US 101 and Route 150 on Bates Road, gastropods are found in the Pleistocene sandy muds.
Bluffs west of Isla Vista contain late Pleistocene mollusks. The bluff is a wave cut terrace from the Pleistocene and contains lots of shells, most of species still which are alive. A ladder is useful.
Capitola, near Santa Cruz, on the beach is a good site for Pliocene fossil collecting. Clams, snails and sand dollars. They are in the sandstone of the sea cliffs and in the talus that falls on to the beach. Go at low tide, walk a few hundred yards south of the Esplanade at Capitola past the sewage outfall.
Topanga Canyon, near Los Angeles, contains middle Miocene sandstone and siltstone from the Topanga Canyon Formation, Cold Creek Member. Abundant gastropods and pelecypods -- mostly replaced -- are found, especially best after a rain when the fossils are often washed out of the matrix. Directions: from the Ventura Freeway (in the San Fernando Valley), get off at the Valley Circle/Mulholland Drive exit Turn left onto Valley Circle, cross over the freeway and proceed onto Mulholland Drive. Turn right onto Valmar Avenue -- Valmar becomes Old Topanga Canyon Road. At Mulholland Highway, bear right and prepare to turn left back onto Old Topanga Canyon Road in 1/8 mile. Turn left and proceed up Old Topanga almost a mile, past the point where the road switches back upon itself. From this point until the top of the hill, you will encounter fossiliferous road cuts on your right. The first embankment contains a massive oyster reef.
The San Pedro area has several Pleistocene marine outcrops. The most accessible (and prolific) is the freeway embankment above John Gibson Boulevard. These are from the middle Pleistocene San Pedro Sand at the bottom of the bank and the late Pleistocene (~120,00 years bp) Palos Verdes Sand at the top. Directions: from LA proceed south on the Harbor Freeway (110) towards San Pedro, get off at the C Street exit, turn right at the first stop sign (Figueroa) and, one block further, right again onto John Gibson Blvd. Drive 1/2 mile and park. Climb up the embankment and dig at the levels that show signs of previous fossil collectors' activity.
Rincon Point near the Ventura/Santa Barbara area, contains Plio/Pleistocene marine fauna. This locality is a freeway cut that exposes sixteen different strata of the Santa Barbara Formation -- each with its own unique makeup and fauna. Directions: from LA, travel north on the Ventura Freeway (101) towards Ventura. Travel about an hour, north towards Santa Barbara. Exit onto Highway 150 (towards Lake Casitas) and park immediately after leaving Route 101. The fossils are found along the freeway offramp and up the hill above.
Coal Point, Isla Vista, a little bit north of Santa Barbara, is a beach locality is from an unnamed late Pleistocene formation. Directions: Drive north on the 101 Freeway through Santa Barbara and Goleta. Take the Storke Road (Glenn Annie Road) exit and turn left. Turn left onto El Colegio Road, right on Camino Corto and right again on Del Playa Drive. Park and walk down to the beach. The fossiliferous layer is visible in the beach cliff and, as you walk north, becomes more accessible and prolific. NOTE: keep an eye out for black widow spiders.
Crown Point, near San Diego has an unusual outcrop of the late Pleistocene Bay Point Formation, with large echinoids. Directions: Take the Grand Avenue exit off of the 5 freeway south -- towards Pacific Beach. Take Grand to Ingraham Street, make a left, then turn on La Cima Drive. Park at end of La Cima (at Riviera Drive) and walk down the stairs to the beach. The echinoids are found in a donax coquina/sandstone south of the stairs to the tip of the point.
Point Loma, near San Diego is also from the Bay Point Formation, and contains an interesting tide pool fauna and great scenery. Mostly mollusks are found, representing an interesting collection of tide pool residents -- many different limpets and the occasional abalone. Directions: From the 5 freeway south towards San Diego, get off at the Tecolate Road/Sea World exit. Proceed west on Sea World Drive -- past Sea World, it becomes Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Drive to the end of Sunset Cliffs and park in the lot for Sunset Cliffs Park. Look along the top of the sea cliff.
At Jack's Peak near Monterey, there are fossils of little leaves and shells in shale a hundred yards down the trail from the west parking lot. Also, there's lots of jasper at Point Lobos, 5 miles south of Monterey.
Near Cadiz - From Barstow head east on I-40 for about 30 miles or so to Ludlow, then take old Route 66 to Amboy. Take the old highway east for about 15 miles or so. You'll come to a small out of the way place called Cadiz. From there head south on a chip sealed road till you get to a military(?) installation of some sort. There are also train tracks with very frequent trains rolling by. The road veers to the left and becomes a "washboard" dirt road. It paralells the RR tracks. Take that about 1-2 miles and keep looking towards the north. The Marble Mts (really part of the Old Woman Mts) are in that direction. There are roads heading north from the dirt road that lead to what appears as a greyish outcrop of limestone set amongst brown rocks. That is the Chambliss (Cambrian) limestone. Stratigraphically beneath the limestone is the Cadiz shale home of the Olenellus trilobites. In the nearby lower beds of the quartzite are found the banded agates that range in size from a marble to a grapefruit. The key to finding this area is to pick out the limestone outcrop. It is about two miles from the dirt road that paralells the RR tracks.
Creede -- The Creede Formation (Eocene, Oligocene on older maps) has plant fossils and insects. The formation is similar to the Florissant. There are plenty of nice plant fossils (pine needles, cones, willow leaves, etc.) in roadcuts along the Rio Grande. Look for the yellow-tan volcanic shales.
Non-collecting sites:Florissant Fossil Beds NM Home Page
Dinosaur National Monument
Venice and Casperton Beaches, south of Tampa on the West coast of Florida. Venice Beach is on Venice Avenue and there are plentiful signs leading the way. Casperton beach is on the South end of Harbor Rd. To find shark teeth, there are three main methods of collecting: surface scanning along the intertidal area, scooping and screening in shallow water and screening on dry shore.
Apollo Beach is another good site for shark teeth along the Florida gulf coast. The beach is on the bay, the water is dark and murky and the beach is rocky. A large number of shark teeth which tend to be better preserved (not as water worn) as those found at Venice and a larger concentration of land vertebrates can be found. In addition someone with patience and a Scuba rig can collect thousands of small shark teeth and astounding amounts of vertebrate fossils and all kinds of marine fossils.
The beach at Fernandina Beach just north of Jacksonville produces some fairly good shark teeth and water-worn vertebrate fragments.
Try Manasota Beach on the Intracoastal Waterway, or the beach three miles south of that on the same road. Go south on 776 and look for Manasota Road (?). The teeth are all over the place, averaging .5 inches, in black, gray, red, and brown. Look for where the tide comes in, that's where the teeth are brought in.
Just south of Jacksonville on a1a, shark teeth and bony fish vertabrae are found at Ponte Vedra Beach. A good access point is Mickler's Landing which is a left turn about a mile south of the McDonalds.
There are several tributaries that run into the Chipola River northeast of Panama City. One is Farley Creek which runs into the north to south running Chipola from the west on State Route 38 and Ten Mile Creek which runs in from the east on State Route 41. Banks of both creeks contain beautifully preserved Miocene mollusks and corals. Both sites represent different facies. The Ten Mile Creek site was a river delta during the Miocene. The Chipola Formation here is a gray unconsolidated clay.
West of Tallahassee, State Highway 20 crosses the Ochlocknee River. On either side of the bridge will be a side road turning south...either of these will lead down to a boat ramp...there is a nominal cost for lanching a boat from there, and there may also be boats to rent. Reasonably close to the dam on the east side of the river will be a high bluff (Jackson Bluff) with a small stream "waterfalling" down the side...there will be a marginal "shoreline" composed of limestone if the water level is not too high (you might check the water level FIRST). The fossil hunting of interest is in the reddish to grayish clays composing the Jackson Bluff Formation that have fallen from above. These contain Miocene/Pliocene shells preserved in an unmineralized state.
See the Florida Museum of Narural History
Stewart County, Hannahatchee Creek, north of Route 39 approximately 10 km west of intersection with US 27. Easiest access is at the second bridge walk a short distance north to the main creek. Not much in the way of mollusks, but nice, very large Scaphanorhynchus texanus shark teeth are found Blufftown Formation (also Cretaceous.)
Houston County, has an abandoned limestone quarry on the east side of Elko Road, 0.75 miles south of Flat Creek, 3 miles south of the city of Perry. Internal casts of mollusks, pectens, oysters, bryozoans, and echinoids are found in the Tivola (Ocala-Crystal River) Limestone, upper Eocene.
Houston County, on west side of US 41, approx. 4 miles south of intersection with State Route 127 produces upper Eocene internal casts of corals and mollusks in the Twiggs Clay. The Twiggs is also exposed on Elko Rd., 3-4 miles south of Perry.
Houston County, a roadcut on both sides of Route 26, 2 miles west of Elko Rd. at milepost 6 produces Calcite replaced mollusks and internal casts from the upper Oligocene Flint River Formation. The same formation is exposed in Dooly County, in a roadcut on dirt road 0.25 miles south of County Line Rd., 4.25 miles east of Elko Rd.
In Mitchell County, the Flint River Formation is exposed on the south side of State Route 112 between Bridgeboro and Lester in the Penn-Dixie Quarry. You must obtain permission to hunt the quarry.
Mississippian fauna can be found on I-59 in NE Georgia, at the exit to Rising Fawn. Behind a convenience store, they've completely dug up a hillside. You'll find some Archimedes bryozoans in some of the rocks there, crinoid bits, and an occasional blastoid. You might want to try to sift through the clay beneath these rocks for stuff that has weathered out.
From Soda Springs, take Wood Canyonout about 8 - 9miles to the top of the aspen range. Look for gray limestone outcrops for good Triassic Thaynes formation ammonites about 100 yards off the road.
Also there is a place called Fossil Canyon that the locals say has good fossils -- ask at City Hall about it.
Along the Mississippi River at Grand Tower, the river takes a sharp bend in this area and the very narrow channel has to be dredged in times of low water to enable barge traffic to pass. There used to be a great gravel bar/beach at this location and good hunting for fossils, geodes, petrified wood, Lake Superior and Montana agates, granite and other neat things the Missouri-Mississippi River system and the glaciers have moved around.
In Alton, there is a quarry with Ordovician fossils including trilobites. Alton is small enough so you can't miss the quarry, make sure to ask for permission.
The Mazon Creek area is well known for its variety of well preserved Pennsylvanian plant and animal fossils. Collecting in the "Pit 11" area is permitted at the Mazonia-Braidwood Conservation Area, but is generally disappointing.Contact --The Mazon Creek Project, NE Illinois University, Dept. Earth Sciences, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave., Chicago, IL 60625 -- to obtain a free permit. Your info packet will contain collecting info, but the collecting areas are practically barren of fossil material. Walking east from the boat dock and searching in the grasses or along the lakeshore might produce a concretion or two. A better bet is to take a boat (see info packet for restrictions) and hunt on one of the islands. Look for ironstone concretions which are smooth, oval or "roundish" and display little or no layering. Concretions usually have to be split--jellyfish are most common, but shrimps, worms, and ferns are also found.
See the Mazon Creek Fossils page
On Route 64 between Evansville and Louisville, at the intersection of Route 37, there is a popular fossil hunting area at the huge road cut. There are brachiopods and blastoids galore as well as the occasional trilobite.
Madison is famous for the many Ordovician fossils readily available sloughing out of the road cuts north of town. This is a great site just because of the incredible quantity of fossils exposed (especially when it has been raining).
Just east of Bloomington is a small outcropping on Route 46 well known for its abundant crinoid fragments.
On Route 101 between Liberty and Brookville, there are a couple large roadcuts near Brookville Lake which expose several of the fossiliferous Richmond formations, including the Waynesville. Abundant fossils are found, including enrolled Flexicalymene trilobites.
Near Lebo: Travel north of I35 at the Lebo, KS exit 131 for 6 1/2 miles. Drive east 1 mile to where Highway K150 turns north. Continue east 2 more miles on a paved county road from this point. This will put you at the entrance to the Turkey point campground. At this intersection there is a roadcut with a large exposure of the Severy Shale, Wabasunsee Group, Upper Pennsylvanian. You can pick up Neochonetes there by the scoopful. There are also small cephalopod molluscs - Mooreoceras, gastropods -Pharkidonotus, Bellerephon, Euphemites, Leptotygma and very small Worthenia. Crinoid stem and calyx fragments are common here along with small sticks of ramose bryozoans. Several other genera can be found on the shale flats across the road. The best is the southeast flat, where there are many fragile Reticulatia americana that used to be called Dictyoclostus americanus.
Near Sedan - Travel north a couple of miles on highway 99 you can find slabs of Beil limestone filled with Caninia corals. In the Queen Hill Shale directly below the Beil, you can find conularids. If you follow highway 166 south and east of Sedan for about 6 miles you will come up on some terraced road cuts in the Pennsylvanian Douglas Group near Peru. Over a dozen different genera of marine invertebrates can be found here. A collector found an asteriacites (starfish trace) fossil in some ripple bedded sandstone at an intersection about a mile west of the roadcuts.
See Rich Leiszler's "Kansas Fossils" page.
Sulphur is on State Route 157 between US 42 and Interstate 71. Nearby roadcuts expose the upper Ordovician (Cincinnatian) and yields numerous fossils.
Springfield, Nally-Gibson quarry just outside of town. The quarry is open from 7:30 am to 11:30 am on Saturdays only. The town is rather small, so most folks can give you directions if you can't find it. Stop by the office and ask permission to collect. The folks who run it are really nice and will let you hunt as long as you get out on time and behave responsibly. Bring a hard hat. In the older section of the stone plant, there are many fossils weathering out of soft shale, including whole brachiopods which are hollow and filled with calcite crystals.
North of Sugar Bay, or south of Big Bone Lick, between Louisville and Cincinnati, outcrops of similar Ordovician limestone to the material in the Cincinnati area are found. Look for roadcuts throughout the area.
Louisville: Gene Snyder Freeway and Taylorsville Road, go east on Taylorsville Road a little over a mile to Ky 155, turn right ( the only way you can turn) and proceed a little over a mile look for the first exposed rock cut on the left. Should be light gray if dry. (best when wet, fossils jump out at you) This is an Upper Ordovician formation. This is part of the Liberty formation. Clams, Brachiopods, Horn corals, Colonial Corals, Bryozoans, Cephalopods, Gastropods. While we are on this road go another 3.6 miles down 155, just after you cross the Spencer County line on the left and right is a road cut with some of the same fossils (mostly Brachiopods) but you will know its the place because of the football size corals sticking out of the formation. This part of the Bardstown reef and these corals are spectacular. One is worth the trip.
If you check outcrops along the road or along the railroad tracks a few miles west of Rockwood, you come across localized spots of highly fossiliferous rock. Bring good hammers and chisels--its hard stuff.
The gravel pits in coastal Maine (below 300 feet in elevation) usually contain exposures of the Presumpscot formation--a marine clay layer dating from the last Pleistocene glaciation--that is rich in marine fossils from that era. I've found crabs, starfish, sand dollars and lots of gastropods.
See "Miocene Fossils of Maryland" .
Check out the small streams draining into the Potomac, North shore, between Anacostia and the bridge to Southern Maryland (Route 301?). Some of these have deposits of shark teeth that eroded from the banks.
About three miles south of Cannon Falls, on U.S. Hwy 52, on the west side of the southbound lane. The Decorah shale is recognizable from its characteristic gray-green coloration, and it's situated just under the Platteville limestone formation (which also carries some interesting, but harder to extract fossils).
About 1 or 2 miles to the southeast of Cannon Falls on CR 25. This is another road cut, but a less obvious one. In this case, the weathered shale (which, in this formation, often resembles "just plain dirt") is in the ditch and on the hillside just to the west of the road. "Brassy oolites" also abound in this area. Also, other ditch exposures exist in that general area.
Cooper Co. near Boonville- Penn. channel sandstone, Lots of Lepidodendron leaves and whole logs of Sigillaria replaced by ironstone.
Hwy. 5 near Tipton- Burlington exposure, typical burlington fauna, VERY rich in blastoids, echinoids, corals and gastropods, some worm tubes preserved in barite.
Syncline in Columbia area- Penn., brachiopods, corals, a couple sponges.
No collecting, but see:Ashfall Fossil Beds page.
Agate Fossil Beds NM Home Page
There are two sites in Monmouth county, NJ for shark's teeth. The best is Big Brook. Access is at the bridge at Boundary Road in Marlboro. The other site is Poricy Brook in Poricy Park. Poricy park is a county park & collecting is encouraged in the stream bed. In addition to shark's teeth, both sites produce belemnitella americana, exogyra, ray crusher pavements & rarely mosasaur bone fragments & jaw parts.
Middletown-- Mesozoic fossils are found in a creek at what appears to be the intersection of the Middletown/Lincroft Road and Poricy Book. Head south from Kings Hwy Toward the center of town on church street. About a block or so (after the RR tracks) this turns into Middletown/Lincroft Road. Go south a mile or so until you get to the base of a big hill. If you see a Jr. High on the right, you are at the top of that hill. Turn around and go back down to the base.
Albuquerque - There are many areas where late Paleozoic marine fossils can be found. The top of Sandia Crest, which towers over Albuquerque, has limestone formations with abundant crinoids and other marine fossils. Also, there is a particular spot in the Jemez Springs area near Battleship rock. Park beside the road near the monument (there is a charge for parking in the parking lot) and hike back south along the road. Along the west side of the road are occasional outcroppings of limestone with yet more crinoids and other fossils.
On route 475 - the road from Santa Fe up to the S.F. ski basin. About a quarter of a mile past Ten Thousand Waves is a small pull- off area on the right with several 3-foot diameter boulders. Park there and walk along the roadcut just a little farther along. This is an outcropping of Pennsylvanian limestone and has lots of brachiopods and nicely preserved crinoid columnals. The fossils are in hard rock, however, so look for the layers which have weathered the most so you can get them out.
The Jemez mountains--start in Los Alamos, then out route 4 through the Valle Grande. When route 4 meets route 44, turn left. Approx 2-3 miles further along you will see a turnoff for Battleship Rock to the left. Just across the main road from the turnoff is a nicely layered outcropping but it doesn't have anything. If you climb the hillside across the road, above the lower outcrop, however, you will find lots of outcroppings of Pennsylvanian limestone which are packed with crinoid sections and brachiopods. The best hunting is in the areas where small stones and fossils which have weathered out of the rock get swept by the rain.
Outside Lamy, a tiny town SW of Santa Fe -- behind the church graveyard (ask for instructions how to get there) is a hillside with outcroppings of grey-green sandstone. Off to the right and back up in the hills is an arroyo. If you walk up the arroyo and pay close attention to the stones, you will eventually reach an area where there are tons of ammonites of all sizes (up to a foot across) and many different species. Unfortunately they are poorly preserved (the original shell material crumbles away or is not present) in crumbly sandstone so it is nearly impossible to get good specimens.
There is a lot of limestone around the Kingston area for many miles south and north and almost all of it has fossils but they are extremely hard to extract. Route 209 also has several of these limestone outcroppings as well and you can stop and look at the crinoids, coral, brachiopods and an occasional trilobite.
Hamburg - Access to the Penn-Dixie quarry should be arranged through the Hamburg Natural History Society Inc. (Individual membership to the: Hamburg Natural History Society Inc.
Box 772, Hamburg, NY 14075 is $10.Gifts and donations are tax deductible.
The quarry is an old shale pit accessed from the new industrial park road near the intersection of Bayview Road and Big Tree Road. Off-road vehicles have beaten a path to the collecting areas. The shale field exposes the complete section of the mid-Devonian Windom Shale. About two feet up-section from the underlying Tichnor Limestone is a 6 inch limestone bed called the "coral-trilobite horizon". Phacops rana trilobites are most common, but there are also two species of Greenops, as well as a typically diverse Hamilton fauna. I'm aware of two 20-30 trilobite multiples or "cohorts" found here. This area has been collected for over 20 years and access to the trilobite bed now requires removing overburden.
Hamburg, along Smokes Creek near the corner of Abbott and Milestrip Rds. There is a fire station with a large parking lot. Park in the lot and try your luck in the creek bed behind the station. There is good collection both upstream as well as down. The spirifer brachiopods are in handfuls, and the trilobites are numerous as well.
Near Oneonta, along Route 20 in eastern-central upstate NY, roadcuts expose Devonian marine invertebrate fossils which weather out and are easy to pick up at the base of road cuts.
Eighteen Mile Creek -- on the south side of Buffalo and located off route 5. The best hunting area is between the lake shore and the Route 5 bridge, at the mouth into Lake Erie. There used to be a place to park off the road (Rt. 5) by the bridge. It is about a quarter mile walk along paths to the lake.
In Alden, about 20 miles north of Buffalo, there is a Creek that runs through the town. Between the two main highway bridges the area is rich with Marcasite nodules that surround misc. cephalopods, gastropods, and shells that have been replaced by Marcasite. There are a few trilobites from the shale there and beautiful golden straight cephalopods.
Near Little Falls -- This is a locality for Triarthrus Trilobites. Take the Little Falls Exit off the NYS Thruway. Follow Rt 169 south to Rt 5S. Go east on 5S a couple of miles to Creek Rd, just past a Ma & Pop Store on your right. Turn right on to creek Rd. Watch carefully and cross the creek 3 times. Look for a park pull off on your right after crossing the third bridge. The collecting area is here & upstream. Downsteam is private property -- so don't collect down stream. These are molts in black Utical shale. Fossils are found in the shale by splitting it.The best collecting is at or in the creek. Thin wide wedges work best. Heads are abundant. Body and tail sections are common but about 50-1 fewer than heads. Complete animals are rare. Also common are graptolites. Some of the fossils are pyritized, although rarely.
A similar location to the one listed above can be found by following Route 5s about 2 miles east of Route 169 from Little Falls. Turn south on Creek Road and continue to the Town highway vehicle garage and park by the sand pile. I remember a triarthrus trilobite layer in the black shale beds in the creek about a foot above the water level at this point.
Collecting Info for this location.
In Eden, at the VA Solite Mine, you can find Triassic plant material and (rarely) dino prints and lizard bones. Insects are not rare, but hard to find.
Near Waynesville - Caesar Creek State Park spillway exposes the Waynesville, Liberty, and Whitewater formations (Richmondian). Many fossils to be found, mostly washed free and clean of matrix. Lots of brachiopods, gastropods, horn and colonial corals, bryozoans, crinoid stems, two types of trilobites, and many trace fossils. Many others items can also be found from time to time, including cephalopod pieces, tube worms, and pelecypods. Directions: Road to visitor's center/spillway is off of Route 73 between Waynesville and Haveysburg in NE Warren County (Ohio). Follow the sign to the visitor's center (a south turn off of 73, just east of Route 42). Stop at the visitor's center to get a free collecting pass. Continue on the visitor center road--the spillway is less than a mile (you can't miss it!) Hint: Rules forbid collecting on the rockfaces -- this is good advice in any event, because the best fossils are found on the spillway floor. One side of the spillway has a sign describing Ordovician sea life--this is the side to search.
A roadcut just north of Waynesville on Route 42 also exposes these formations.
A road cut on Route 52 about 15 miles east of Cincinnati that exposes the Eden. Trilobites, including "lace-collar" Cryptolithis and Flexicalymene are found, as well as typical Ordovician fauna. Also look for the occasional crinoid cup, graptolites, and interesting trace fossils.
Roadcuts around Georgetown expose the Coryville and Bellvue formations. Two cuts are the best. One is just east of Georgetown on Route 125, Brown County, Ohio (30-40 north east of Cincy). The other is on Route 68, west of Georgetown and south of Route 125.
The Eden is exposed along Route 68 at Ripley, just north of the Ohio River.
The East Fork Lake spillway. exposes the Fairmont type formations. Location: From I-275 (east of Cincy), travel east on Route 125 nine miles to Route 222. Turn left (north). About 0.7 miles north of 125, turn right (east) toward the spillway--broad, long valley. The far end of the spillway (as you drive in) is probably the best area. There are many fossils in some areas while other areas are sparse. Look for trilos, pelecypods, gastropods, brachs, and rare edrioasteroids, as well as other Ordovician goodies.
Hueston Woods State Park near Oxford exposes fossilferous Ordovician shales and limestone. Go to dam at the lower end of the biggest lake there and collect below it. Brachiopods, gastropods, corals, trilobites, bryozoans, etc.
Dayton - Roadcuts around Dayton expose the Richmond (Ordovician) through the Niagarin (Silurian) with plentiful fossils.
Lodi - There is a city park in which is in a river valley that runs through the center of town. In it (and in other streams in the area, but private property is an issue) are Mississippian sandstones and siltstones which contain a nice marine fauna including brachiopods, bryozoans, infrequent but fancy trilobites, rare starfish, common crinoids, some conulariids, and even occasional bits of carbonized wood.
On Route 170, just South of New Middletown, the abandoned quarries expose Pennylvanian marine fauna in the shale and limestone.
On Route 224, east of Poland, quarries on south side of road expose marine Pennsylvanian deposits. These are active for the most part, so secure permission first.
See: John Day Fossil Beds NM Home Page (not a public collecting site.)
Various quarries in West Pittsburgh (south of New Castle) expose the Pennsylvanian Vanport limestone. The associated shale is full of brachiopods, crinoids, etc. All Pennsylvanian.
More than 80 fossil plant species, as well as several arthropods, have been identified from the shales underlying the main Buck Mountain coal seam northeast of Saint Clair.
Dauphin County: Rockville Quarry, 3 miles north of Harrisburg. Rockville is known for the beautiful stone arch RR bridge - longest of its type in the world. There is an abandoned ss quarry in Little MLt. at the N end of a deep rock cut on US22-322 @50' above road level. Turn east off Front St onto Roberts Valley Road @200' north of the stone bridge. @ 0.1 miles east turn along dirt road parallel to RR track. Originally, collectors could park along the highway bridge over RR -- but police officials have advised this is illegal. If anyone else can offer a place to park for this location, place send info to this page. In the quarry coral, bryozoa, brachiopods, dephalopods, crinoids, trilobites, and trace fossils are found.
Lebanon County: Swatara Gap is no longer open to collecting!
n the Black Hills, almost any thick white limestone outcrop has the potential for holding invertebrate marine fossils. The thickest is the Madison limestone. As you hike around the margins of the Hill, near Rapid City, you may come across the valley where the last scene of Dances with Wolves was filmed. Nice corals are found in this area.
After entering South Dakota at North Sioux City, take 1-29 north to the junction with State Route 50, 7 miles north of Elk Point. Follow Highway 50 for about 8 miles to a narrow ridge that cuts across Route 50. In the Greenhorn Limestone at this locality is found good pelecypod collecting (better exposures are on the other side of the Big Sioux River in Iowa). Continue west along Route 50 to Yankton. Near Ciavins Point Dam, 3 miles west of Yankton, along Highway 50, the Niobrara Chalk and the Pierre Shale are exposed in quarries along the north bluff of the Missouri River. The chalk contains remains of shells, fishes, and marine reptiles as does the Pierre Shale above the chalk. Continue westward on Routes 52, 50 and U.S. Highway 18 and cross Fort Randall Dam where, on the west side of the Missouri River, you will ascend through the complete section of the Pierre Shale, and find many zones that contain vertebrate and invertebrate fossils.
The Badlands of the Little White River are accessible in Mellette and Bennett Counties. Vertebrate fossils sometimes occur in these Badlands. Continuing West on Highway 18, just inside Fall River County, the Tepee Buttes (which actually resemble teepees) of the Pierre Shale are fossiliferous with poorly preserved pelecypods. Continuing westward to the Wyoming State line on Highway 18, the Sundance crops out and contains numerous fossil cephalopods.
Near Kadoka you begin to enter the area of well exposed White River beds in and around Badlands National Park. These beds occasionally contain fossil bones, but collecting is not allowed within or near the Park. You may wish to take Star Route 44 through Scenic to Rapid City to take advantage of numerous collecting areas along the way. Below the base of the White River beds, in the upper part of the Pierre Shale, are large concretions. When these are broken open you may find cephalopods and other invertebrates. The same type of collecting can be done on 1-90 near Wasta.
The Fox Hills sandstone near Eagle Butte contains pelecypods and gastropods in the concretionary zones in some of the less cemented parts of the sandstone. (Tribal permission to collect is required in Dewey and Ziebach Counties.)
Davidson County exposes the Silurian, Waldron Shale on both sides of I-40 west of Nashville between mileposts 193 and 194. Exposure is in the middle of the cut on the first terrace. This is the same formation as that found at the St. Paul, IN quarry however a different fauna is present. Brachiopods, crinoid calyxes, very large crinoid stems.
Davidson County also exposes the upper Ordovician, Catheys Formation - I-40 west of Nashville at milepost 197. Brachiopods, bryozoans, cephalopods, colonial corals. The Catheys is also exposed on I-40 west of Nashville, 0.4 miles west of Hwy 251 (Old Hickory Rd. exit).
The upper Ordovician Leipers Formation in Davidson County can be found on I-40 west of Nashville, west side exit 201 (Charlotte Pike). Brachiopods, bryozoans.
The yellow limestone surrounding Lake Benbrook, contains nice ammonites.
College Station - There is a lot of top quality fossilized wood around College Station.
Austin City Park Road, off of Ranch Road 2222, just west of Loop 360, and the parking lot behind the Toys R Us on Loop 360, just north of Ben White Blvd. expose fossiliferous limestones and shales.
Almost all of the Cretaceous strata in the San Antonio area is loaded with fossils. If you can get your hands on a geological map, try the Upper Cretaceous Austin Chalk (bright white-to-tan chalk, hard to miss) and the Lower Cretaceous Glen Rose Fm.(look for stair-step topography in the hills to the west). Also, check the roadcuts along Hwy 281 from San Antonio Johnson City.
Heading into Bryan, from the southwest on State Route 21 you will cross over the Brazos River and the Little Brazos River. The banks are abundantly fossiliferous with Eocene marine fossils including gastropods, shark teeth, bivalves and such. I recommend the north side of the Brazos. Just park by the bridge and walk down one of the cement sluces to the river bank. Then walk under the railroad bridge and begin looking in the darker (green-black) shales. The teeth are hard to spot because they are the same color as the shale. This is the Stone City Fm. just below the tan Mt. Cook Fm.
Near Bend -- The Pennsylvanian, Smithwick Formation shales produce a fair number of cephalopods, ammonites and nicely detailed trilobites. This site is for the more dedicated collector as finding good specimens requires using a rock hammer and chisels to split the shale layers. Go west out of Lampasas on Route 580 to Bend. Cross the Colorado river into Bend, make a right and go approx.1/2 mile until you see the white ME ranch fence on the left. The site is across the street down a short unobstructed rocky drive to the river (about 100 meters). The black shale weathers to tan and is easy to spot. Look for the easiest areas near the river bank.
Petrified wood is found near Grand Gulch, in and downstream of Cow Tank Canyon, in bland brown/black colors, mostly poorly fossilized and light-weight.
Seaman wash - Petrified Hollow wash, located in Kane Co. Approximately 15.7 miles east of Kanab on U.S. 89 is a light-duty gravel road leading north into Seaman Wash and onto Petrified Wash, the material is found along the flanks of the Vermilion Cliffs. There are some claims in the area so be careful to stay clear or seek permission. A good map is Buckskin Gulch 7.5' Quad.
Straight Cliffs is also located in Kane Co. Drive east out of Escalante on Utah Highway 12 just over 4 miles the Hole in the Rock road. Turn right on this road and follow it for 17 miles the Garfield-Kane Co. line. Any of the roads leading to the right after this point will probably get you over into the hills where the material can be collected. Look in the ledges near the tops of hills as well as in the washes. The Hole in the Rock Road is passable to a passenger car in good weather, but 4wd is necessary to drive up to the outcrop areas.
Near Delta, the U-Dig Trilobite Quarry offers collectors an opportunity to quarry numerous specimens of Elrathia trilobite from the Cambrian. See: Jeremy Fuller's Trilobite Hunting in Utah page
Many excellent plant fossils are found off of State Route 11 (Chuckanut Drive) about 7 miles south of Bellingham. The sedimentary rocks in this area belong to the Chuckanut formation which is an Eocene occurrence. There are many palm and horsetail plants as well as deciduous leaves and evergreen leaves that appear to be a type of Sequoia. There are also pieces of wood. The rocks consists of sandstone mudstone, and shale, but the most detailed, well preserved specimens were in the shale. There is a pull-off about a mile north of an oyster company where you can park and walk into Puget Sound .
In Metaline Falls, there is a limestone deposit containing a few different species of trilobites. All specimens were warped in the way of horizontal stretching.
Of several excellent locations for Eocene and Oligocene plant fossils in the Pacific Northwest, the most conspicuous and accessible is the town-owned site at the little burg of Republic. The Stonerose Center and collecting site is right in town. Go to the Center and sign up to collect. They will even rent tools to you if you need them. Two blocks away is the site, where you can keep up to three fossils each after giving the folks at the Center a chance to scan your finds for potential new specimens.
Wyoming16 miles south of Kemmerer on Highway 189. Turn off Highway 189 at the Cumberland Gap, drive about .2 miles and pull off onto a dirt road on the north side of the road. Drive on the dirt road NE about .8 miles around Oyster ridge and stop at the next ridge beyond Oyster ridge. On the east side of this slope pelecypods are found. The other cool thing of note is some petroglyphs in the area that are north of the source.
Note: First, get USGS Cumberland Gap, Wyo. 7.5' Quad to assist you with the local landmarks.
Warfield Springs is a "pay quarry" which produces many freshwater fishes and the occasional insect. The site itself is very well run; there is an overseer who collects the daily digging fee. Hammers and chisel tools are supplied as part of the fee and are very serviceable. In addition, the overseer has a tractor/loader to cart away the overburden which you will probably have to strip away where you dig (it takes some time but the results are usually worth it). You should call ahead to be sure no large groups are coming in when you plan to be there. If you are stopping at Warfield you should also plan to include a visit to Fossil Butte National Monument Park near Kemmerer. They carry a number of books, maps, videos, etc. concerning the history, geology, and digging sites. They also have brochures from the local quarries that charge fees to dig.
Ulrich's offer quarry digging in a section of their quarry site on a daily basis. The fossils from Ulrich's tend to be better than other quarries because they split cleaner and the fossils themselves tend to be darker in color than at other quarries. Quarrying is done with an on-site assistant, tools are provided but the dig is limited to a half day starting early in the morning. You will generally find that you will collect as many nice specimens in the half day at Ulrich's as you will in a whole day other places (and they tend to be of higher quality). Ulrichs will also cut down the extra area of rock around the fossil per your directions on one their stone cutting saws. Ulrich Fossil Gallery, Fossil Station #308, Kemmerer, Wyoming 83101, 307-877-6466. 307-877-3289 (fax)
Other pay quarries in the area include:
Warfield Fossil Quarries
2072 Muddy String Road
Thane, Wyoming 83127
(mailing address-not the site)
Severn Studio and Fossil Quarry
P.O. Box 1347
Kemmerer, Wyoming 83101
Peter and Robbie Stevens Prop.
Kemmerer, Wyoming 83101
James E. and Carolyn Tynsky
(Call information for a phone number)
Fossil Country Museum
400 Pine Avenue
Kemmerer, Wyoming 83101
Petrified wood is found at Blue Forest, southwest Wyoming, and related areas (Farson / Big Sandy palm/cane beds, and Eden Valley / Woodtop). Age 42MY (Eocene); ranges from excellent blue agatized, exquisite details, to brown rottenwood; some golden calcite; lots of shards washed out on surface; best stuff must be dug up.
For fossils from the Green River Formation, try visiting the town of Green River itself. Poke around for fish fossils just below Fontinelle Dam, about 20 minutes away from town. A crumbly shale bluff is exposed on the east side of the river there.
Non-collecting site: FOSSIL BUTTE NATIONAL MONUMENT
CanadaPrincetown, BC has locations for Eocene and Oligocene plant fossils. There are many little-known sites throughout the mountains. Fossil News ran an excellent article about a collecting trip through this area.
Vancouver, B.C., try the Eocene fossil beds on Chuckanut Drive just south of Bellingham. The location is mtn-side, along the road, approx 1-3 km north of the Oyster Bar Restaurant. The road is narrow so keep your but-in or you may get clipped by a passing car. Lots of palms, ferns, and assorted angiosperm leaves.
The Craigleith site, which is only about two hours from Toronto, is a good place for beginners. The fossils are quite easy to find, there is public access just east of the provincial park, and there are good collecting areas on exposed parts of the Niagara Escarpment close by. If you don't want to leave Toronto, go to Marie Curtis Park on Lakeshore Boul. and follow Etobicoke Creek, where you will find upper Ordovician Georgian Bay Formation fossils (unfortunately, very few trilobites, but many other fossils).
There is a beach at Joggins, near Amherst, Nova Scotia, which has some stygmaria, lepidodendrons and calamites. You are not allowed to dig at the wall, but can freely keep any loose material on the beach.
See the Newfoundland Fossils page
Send a fossil site to: email@example.com.
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