Ultimate Bucket List of Dinosaur and Fossil Hunting Sites Across America

Dinosaur Digs in USA

Unearth the Adventure of a Lifetime: Explore Top Dinosaur and Fossil Dig Sites in the United States

There’s something magical about unearthing a piece of history that’s millions of years old to get everyone excited. From our earliest days we’ve loved to dig in the dirt and discover new things and old things lost and long forgotten. It’s the dream of dinosaur fans everywhere to discover dinosaur bones or fossils.  In this article, we take you on journey through the top dinosaur digs in the United States, and help you prepare for your own adventure.

Introduction to Dinosaur Digs and Fossil Hunting

Dinosaur digs are essentially archaeological expeditions where you search for dinosaur fossils. These digs can be amateur or professional, and can range from a few hours to several weeks. Fossil hunting is a unique way to connect with the past and learn about the world before humans.

The United States is home to some of the world’s most famous dinosaur digs, with a rich history of paleontological discoveries. From the Badlands of South Dakota to the deserts of Utah, there’s no shortage of places to explore.

Top Dinosaur and Fossil Sites in America

1. Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado and Utah

Located on the border of Colorado and Utah, the Dinosaur National Monument is a must-visit for any dinosaur enthusiast. This site is home to over 1,500 dinosaur fossils, including Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. One of the main attractions of Dinosaur National Monument is the Quarry Exhibit Hall, which houses a remarkable collection of dinosaur fossils. Visitors can observe hundreds of dinosaur bones embedded in a rock face, providing a unique glimpse into the past. The exhibit hall also offers educational displays and interactive exhibits that help visitors understand the significance of these fossils and the processes involved in their discovery and preservation.  These national parks also offer many other outdoor activities for families to enjoy.

2.  U-Dig Fossils, Delta Utah

For folks who want to dig and unearth their very own fossils, U-Dig Fossils offers the chance to discover ancient fossils in its shale quary.  This privately owned site allows visitors to prospect and split shale rocks to reveal hidden fossil treasurers within. The shale often reveals multiple stunning fossil specifmens within.

3. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park

The Badlands National Park in South Dakota is another popular destination for fossil hunters. The park is home to one of the richest fossil beds in the world, with over 69 million years of history. This is also one of the most dramtically beautiful national parks in America where visitors can take guided tours of the park or go off-trail to explore on their own.  You may remember when the famous Tyrrannasaurus Rex name Sue was discovered here.  You cannot dig in the park, but most fossil discoveries are a result of the continually eroding environment that reveals the bones and teeth of animals who roamed here eons ago. Children seem to be particularly adept at spotting bones and fossils in the shifting sands.  It’s important to remember you may not remove these specimens, but mark them on a map for a paleontologist to analyze.

4. Hell Creek Formation, Montana

The Hell Creek Formation in Montana is a world-renowned site for dinosaur fossils, including the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and Edmontosarus have been found. This area is a popular destination for professional paleontologists and amateurs alike. Adults can go on week-long organized dinosaur digs by several scientific expeditions who operate in the area.

5. The Wyoming Dinosaur Center & Dig Sites

For both the serious fossil hunters and families alike, The Wyoming Dinosaur Center features a popular ‘Dig For a Day’ experience and hands on opportunities for fossil collection.  Located  in central Wyoming near Thermopolis, visitors can participate in a variety of activites including  working on an active dig site with experienced paleontologists.

6.  Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historic Park, Royal Nebraska

As the name would suggest, the Ashfall Fossil Beds were created when volcanic activity about 12 million years ago sent a massive blast of ash across the landscape.  The ash clouds suffocated all life that existed and frequented a life-sustaining watering hole.  Today you can get an up-close view of the prehistoric graveyard, by visiting the Nebraska University State Museum at the Ashfall Beds, and an active research site.  Visit the Rhino Barn, an active dig site where you can see well preserved remains of  ancient rhinoceros, three toed horses and other fascinating extinct animals.

7. Fossil Park, Sylvania, Ohio

This conveniently accessed park is inviting for the whole family.  The Fossil Park is different from others in that it is located in the midst of a number of working quaries.  Discarded shale is trucked in and dumped in a 5 acre stie where prospectors can dig for fossil treasurers.  Over 200 species of fossils have been found at this site.  It is free to dig through the shale and you may take home any fossils that you find.

8.  Venice Beach, Gulf Coast of Florida

Megalodon Shark Tooth

While most people think of fossil hunting as a dry inland activity, you might be surprised to discover that the beaches of southwest Florida are rich hunting grounds for prehistoric shark teeth.  Most amazing are the giant fossilized Megalodon teeth that can be found diving just offshore.  After a storm they have been known to  wash in on the surf.  But every day of the year you can find fossiled sharks teeth on the beaches between Boca Grande, Manasota Key, Englewood and Venice.  In addition, there are rich fossil beds for large shark teeth along the banks of the Peace River that runs inland from Charlotte Harbor.  With the gulf coast known as some of the best sea shell collecting sites in the world, you and your family can spend many happy hours searching for shell and sharks teeth along this coast.  Search on your own or go with one of the expert fossil hunting excursions in this area of Southwest Florida.

What to Expect on a Dinosaur Dig

If you’re planning on going on a dinosaur dig, it’s important to know what to expect. Most dinosaur digs require a lot of physical activity, including hiking, digging, and carrying heavy equipment. You’ll also need to be prepared for long days in the sun and rough terrain.

You’ll be working alongside professional paleontologists and other fossil hunters, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn from their expertise. Depending on the dig, you may be working on a new discovery or excavating a previously known fossil.

Tools and Equipment for Fossil Hunting

Before you head out on your dinosaur dig, you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools and equipment. Some essential items include a rock hammer, chisel, brush, safety glasses, sunscreen, and plenty of water. You may also need a pickaxe, shovel, or sifter, depending on the dig.

It’s important to follow safety guidelines when using tools and equipment. Always wear safety glasses and gloves, and be careful when handling sharp objects. Make sure to stay hydrated and take breaks when needed.

Safety Tips for Dinosaur Digs

Fossil hunting can be a dangerous activity, so it’s important to take safety seriously. Always follow the guidelines set by the dig leaders and park rangers. Stay on designated trails and avoid climbing on rocks or other unstable surfaces.

It’s also important to stay aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for wildlife, such as snakes or scorpions, and be prepared to give them plenty of space. If you’re hiking or working in a remote area, make sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.

Best Places to Find Dinosaur Fossils

dinosaur fossil hunting

If you’re looking for the best places to find dinosaur fossils, there are a few key areas to focus on. These include the Badlands of South Dakota, the Morrison Formation in Colorado, and the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. Other popular areas include the Judith River Formation in Montana and the Cedar Mountain Formation in Utah.

It’s important to remember that fossil hunting is not allowed in all areas, and it’s important to follow park rules and regulations. Always check with park rangers before beginning your search.

Best Time of Year for Dinosaur Digs

The best time of year for dinosaur digs varies depending on the location. In general, the summer months are the most popular for fossil hunting, as the weather is warm and dry. However, some areas may be too hot during the summer, making spring or fall a better option.

It’s important to check with the dig leaders or park rangers for the best time to visit. Some digs may only be available during certain times of the year, depending on weather conditions or park regulations.

How to Prepare for a Dinosaur Dig

Preparing for a dinosaur dig is essential for a successful and safe trip. Make sure to research the area you’ll be visiting and familiarize yourself with the park rules and regulations. Pack all the necessary tools and equipment, and make sure to dress appropriately for the weather.

It’s also important to be in good physical shape, as fossil hunting can be physically demanding. Make sure to stay hydrated and take breaks as needed. And don’t forget to bring a sense of adventure and curiosity!

Amateur Dinosaur Hunting vs. Professional Dinosaur Hunting

Amateur dinosaur hunting and professional dinosaur hunting are two very different experiences. Amateur fossil hunters can participate in guided tours or join a community dig, while professional paleontologists typically work on their own excavations.

While both experiences offer the opportunity to connect with the past, professional paleontologists have access to more advanced equipment and are able to make groundbreaking discoveries. However, amateur fossil hunters can still make important contributions to the field by reporting any fossils they find.

Conclusion: Why Dinosaur Digs are an Exciting and Educational Adventure

Dinosaur digs and fossil hunting are exciting and educational adventures that can connect us with the past and teach us about the world before humans. From the Badlands of South Dakota to the deserts of Utah, the United States is home to some of the world’s most famous and rich dinosaur digs.

By following safety guidelines, preparing for the trip, and packing the right equipment, fossil hunters of all levels can participate in this unique and rewarding experience. So grab your rock hammer and brush, and get ready to unearth the adventure of a lifetime!

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