Fossil finds: Tips for a successful trip to Wyoming

words Alexa Wang

Wyoming is one of the best states in the country to dig for fossils. Many different fossils can be found, ranging from large dinosaurs to fish to unique plant specimens.

If you have a trip planned to see what fossils you can find, keep reading. Here you can learn about some of the best places to spend your time searching for fossils in Wyoming and some tips to ensure your trip is successful.

trip to Wyoming

Searching for fossils in Wyoming can be very exciting, so be sure to read on

Places to Visit

If you want to ensure your visit gives you the best opportunity to find real fossils, you have to visit the right places. Some of the most popular fossil digging sites are listed here.

Warfield’s Fossil Safari

Kemmerer, Wyoming is well known for all the amazing fossils found in the area. One location to visit is located just 35 miles to the northwest. Here you can find an array of fossil specimens. The fossils found in this area (the Green River Foundation) all date at least 40 million years old.

Thanks to the quarry’s setting, this experience will be one you won’t soon forget. If you are planning a trip here, all you need is your equipment for transporting the fossils, as you can use the digging and harvesting tools provided on-site.

If you are a novice, you can be shown how to properly excavate the fossils. Make sure to bring your own safety materials, such as goggles, sunscreen, gloves, and hats.

Website: https://www.fossilsafari.com/

Wyoming Dinosaur Center

Are you interested in something bigger in size and history? If so, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center offers you the opportunity to dig for Jurassic period dinosaur fossils.

There’s a digging site open for public use at the Wild River Canyon, which is found at Warm Springs Ranch. Remember, if you are lucky enough to find a fossil, these aren’t bones you can take home. They are collected and eventually displayed at one of the museums around the country.

Website: https://wyomingdinosaurcenter.org/

Ulrich’s Fossil Gallery

There’s yet another location that offers visitors the opportunity to find fossils, which is here at Ulrich’s Fossil Gallery. Here you can find all types of aquatic life that is up to 60 million years old. You can find several different fish species and other forms of life, such as palms and other plant fossils.

You can get your hands dirty if you visit this fossil location and even take home some of the species you find.

If you find you don’t have much luck with your own excavation, you don’t have to leave empty-handed. There are plenty of online locations, such as FossilEra, where you can purchase full size, pristine fish fossils.

Website: http://www.ulrichsfossilgallery.com/quarry-tours/

Wyoming fossils

Read our tips for a successful fossil finding trip

Tips to Ensure a Successful Fossil Finding Trip

If you want to ensure you have a successful fossil finding trip to Wyoming, you may need a few tips. This is especially the case if this is your first fossil finding excursion.

Use the tips here to ensure a successful fossil finding experience.

Make Sure Your Vehicle is Up to the Travel

Before embarking on a trip to any of the above-mentioned destinations, you need to ensure your vehicle’s tires are in great condition. The roads leading to the quarries are typically graveled and they may contain large stones that can cut and damage your tires. If this happens, it can ruin the entire experience.

This is especially important if the roadbeds are made out of fish shale, which is extremely sharp. Make sure you drive slowly while on gravel and you won’t have any issues.

Take the Needed Digging Equipment and Safety Gear Along

While digging for fossils, especially fish fossils, you need to make sure you have the necessary gear with you. While most quarries provide digging equipment, there are some items you will need to bring along.

Some of the collecting equipment you need to have includes knee-pads, boots, long pants, thick leather gloves (not soft ones), newspaper (or bubble wrap) for wrapping the fossils, sunscreen, a hat, a box or plastic bin to stack the fossils for the trip home, a sharpened iron split blade, rock hammer, large pry bar, wide chisel, cardboard flats, first aid kit, a fine-toothed hacksaw, and toilet paper (the only bathrooms available are outhouses).

Finding Fish Fossils

The technique you need to use to find fish fossils is actually simple. As you are searching for the right specimen, remember – the bigger and thicker, the better. Once you have found a good specimen, gently tap on it using your tools. Don’t hit it forcefully in a single spot, as this could break it or damage the fossil inside.

As mentioned above, the bigger the specimen, the better. After all, it’s the large rocks that give you the best chance of finding a whole fish fossil. Make sure that you trim the rock on-site after your time has expired. Do this before you pack them to take home.

Finding Fossils: It’s an Amazing Experience

If you want to ensure that your fossil finding experience is successful, be sure to visit the locations mentioned above and use the tips found here, too. By using the tips here, you can feel confident that your fossil finding adventure will be one you won’t soon forget. 

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