National Fossil Day™   Explore Nature
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Take a Hike!

Celebrate National Trails Day everyday with some fossil friends!

amphibian footprints
Animals have been hiking for hundreds of millions of years! These 280 million year old amphibian foot prints were discovered in Paleozoic Trackways National Monument (New Mexico). Where is your favorite fossiliferous place to leave footprints? New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science photograph, courtesy McKinney Briske (PTNM Park Ranger).

There are many opportunities to get outside and experience your ancient America while hiking. We've listed a sample of fossiliferous hikes suggested by National Fossil Day partners. Do you have a favorite that's not listed? Let us know! Thanks to all the partners that submitted trails.

The trails listed here cross a variety of federal, state, and local lands. Fossil collecting regulations differ by management agency. It is your responsibility to know whether you can collect fossils before you hike. It is always appropriate to leave fossils where you found them for the next hiker to experience.

Use your head before using your feet. Plan ahead with these suggestions from the American Hiking Society. The links below provide hike-specific information.

bulletWhat's new?bullet

6/17/13: Added Dinosaur Alley in District of Columbia and Maryland.
5/31/13: Added trails in Utah (Warner Valley Dinosaur Trackways) and Wyoming (Dry Creek Petrified Tree EEA and Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite).

Fossil trails by state:

| AL | AK | AZ | AR | CA | CO | CT | DE | DC | FL | GA | HI | ID | IL | IN | IA | KS | KY | LA | ME | MD | MA | MI | MN | MS | MO | MT | NE | NV | NH | NJ | NM | NY | NC | ND | OH | OK | OR | PA | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VT | VA | WA | WV | WI | WY |

Alabama


Alaska


Arizona

bulletGrand Canyon National Park

Trail of Time
Located along the South Rim, the Trail of Time is an interpretive walking timeline trail that focuses on Grand Canyon vistas and rocks to guide visitors to ponder, explore, and understand the magnitude of geologic time and the stories encoded by Grand Canyon rock layers and landscapes.
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Guided Fossil Walk
Stroll through an ancient ocean of marine creatures on this 0.5-mile (0.8 km), one-way walk along the South Rim. Daily at 9:30 am (summer 2013). Meet at Bright Angel Lodge.
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bulletPetrified Forest National Park

Blue Mesa
Length: 1 mile loop, moderately strenuous; Trailhead: Blue Mesa sun shelter. Descending from the mesa, this alternately paved and gravel trail loops among badland hills of bluish bentonite clay and petrified wood. Plant fossils, including delicate ferns, have been found in the sedimentary layers of Blue Mesa. The top portion of this trail may be negotiated by strollers and various mobility equipment (power and manual). The trail then drops very steeply to its lower portion.

Crystal Forest
Length: 0.75 mile loop; Trailhead: Crystal Forest parking area. Despite more than a century of collecting, beautiful crystals still hide in the colorful petrified logs at Crystal Forest. This paved trail may be negotiated with strollers, although there are a few steep hills. Mobility equipment may be used to access the shade shelter with assistance, but are not recommended on the loop due to narrow width and steep sections. There are no stairs.

Giant Logs
Length: 0.4 mile loop; Location: Behind Rainbow Forest Museum. Trail guide available inside Rainbow Forest Museum. Giant Logs features some of the largest and most colorful logs in the park. "Old Faithful", at the top of the trail, is almost ten feet wide at the base! This paved trail has several sets of stairs and may not be suitable for strollers or mobility equipment.

Long Logs
Length: 1.6 mile loop; Trailhead: Rainbow Forest Museum parking area. Long Logs is one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the park. Explore this ancient log jam at the base of gray badlands. The first half-mile of this trail is paved and suitable for mobility equipment and strollers. Strollers may be negotiated on the loop, but it is not recommended for most wheelchairs and other mobility equipment due to its narrow width and very rough surface. Stairs up to the shade shelter can be avoided by using the Agate House trail to access the hilltop.

Agate House
Length: 2 miles round trip; Trailhead: Rainbow Forest Museum parking area. Archeologists believe that this small pueblo was occupied for a short time about 700 years ago. Seasonal farmers or traders possibly built Agate House from petrified wood as a temporary home. Do not sit on fragile walls. The first half-mile of this trail is paved and suitable for strollers and various mobility equipment (power and manual). The rest of the trail may be negotiated out to Agate House, but it is narrow width and very rough surface, not suitable for some wheelchairs and other equipment.

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Arkansas


California

bulletOrange County Parks

Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park
Marine fossils are visible along the Pecten Reef Loop trail, an easy, 0.5 mile, multi-use trail.
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Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
You can find Laguna Coast Wilderness Park's earliest history written in stone. Some park rocks date back to the end of the age of dinosaurs -- 65 million years ago – with clay and sand deposited by streams, swamps, and ponds near the coast. In other park locations, fossil scallops tell of a time 40 million years later, when salt water covered the park and sea creatures thrived here on an ocean shelf. Paleontologists discovered 10 million-year-old giant shark teeth as workers prepared the roadbeds through Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Scientists also found embedded in the rock the vertebrae and jaws of ancient whales. Trails throughout the park offer opportunities for exploration.
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Ralph B. Clark Regional Park
Orange County wasn't always populated with nice, friendly people. The original residents were a bit wilder. Mammoths, ring-tailed cats, giant ground sloths and a unique type of ancient llama lived in this area. Our nationally recognized Interpretive Center is home to one of the more significant fossil museums in Southern California. Short trails throughout the park offer opportunities to roam where the fossils were discovered.
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Colorado

bulletFlorissant Fossil Beds National Monument: Petrified Forest Loop

This easy 1 mile loop trail leads through the bed of ancient Lake Florissant. It passes numerous giant petri�ed redwood tree stumps, including the colorful "Big Stump." The trail also passes the historic "Scudder" excavation pit. This trail starts behind the outdoor exhibit area.
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bulletMorrison-Golden Fossil Area

Dinosaur Ridge Trail
This 1.5-mile trail along Alameda Parkway (closed to private vehicles), between Rooney Road North and County Road 93, has hundreds of dinosaur tracks, a quarry of dinosaur bones, and interesting geologic features. To hike the Ridge will take between 1-2 hours and is about 2 miles round trip. The trail has over 15 sites, each marked by an interpretive sign. Fossil sites, interesting rock sites, and scenic overlooks provide hints to the prehistory of Colorado's Front Range.
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Triceratops Trail at Parfet Prehistoric Preserve
Triceratops Trail is a 1.5-mile, gravel hiking trail located one block east of 6th Avenue and 19th Street in Golden, Colorado. The trail winds between large, vertical walls of sandstone and into reclaimed clay pits. The hike should take around an hour round trip and involve a few places difficult/impossible for elderly and/or handicapped persons to access. Along the trail are several stops highlighting clay mining and dinosaur, bird, mammal, insect, and invertebrate tracks and traces, as well as several walls full of plant impressions from the tree-lined delta-like environment.
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bulletGarden Park Fossil Area

The Cleveland Quarry (6 miles north of Cañon City on the Garden Park-Shelf Road) is where scientists in the 1950s spotted dinosaur bones protruding from the base of a cliff next to Fourmile Creek. The skeleton of this huge plant-eating dinosaur is now displayed at the Cleveland (Ohio) Museum of Natural History. The BLM-managed Cleveland Quarry recreation site, adjacent to the quarry and the creek, features interpretive exhibits, a picnic area, and restrooms. Marsh Quarry, with a 0.25-mile, self-guided interpretive trail, is located about 0.1 mile north of the Cleveland Quarry. The parking area is on the west side of the road. The trail provides views of Marsh Quarry, the site of notable dinosaur discoveries from the 1870s and 1880s, including fossils of Allosaurus, Diplodocus, Stegosaurus, and others.
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bulletKremmling Cretaceous Ammonite Locality

With fossils of more than 100 invertebrate species, Kremmling Cretaceous Ammonite Locality takes visitors on a fantastic journey 72.5 million years back in time. Featured here are giant ammonite species, such as Placenticeras meeki, and a large variety of other marine invertebrates. In fact, ten species of bivalves, gastropods and mollusks have been newly discovered here.
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bulletMcInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Dinosaur Hill Trail
Located one mile south of Fruita, this BLM-managed trail includes the site of Rigg's 1901 Apatosaurus quarry.
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Fruita Paleontological Area
Located 2 miles southwest of Fruita, this BLM-administered area is home to a variety of fossils from microvertebrate mammals and reptiles to large dinosaurs.
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Trail Through Time/Mygatt-Moore Quarry
The Trail Through Time includes an dinosaur quarry (active May - Aug) and interpretive trail. The trail is administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the Museum of Western Colorado. The quarry appears to have been an ancient watering hole 140 million years ago. It was visited by thousands of dinosaurs over thousands of years. The list of dinosaurs found at Trail Through Time is quite extensive, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus, Camarasaurus, Ceratosaurus, Allosaurus, Nodosaurus. During the warmer months you might find paleontologists at work in the quarry. The best time for visiting the Trail Through Time is spring or fall. Summers temperatures can reach 100+, with biting gnats and wet winters can cause the trail to be slippery.
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Connecticut


Delaware


District of Columbia

bulletDinosaur Alley

There are many dino-sites within DC and suburban Maryland; some offer opportunities to stretch your legs. In 2007, The Washington Post published a guide to Dinosaur Alley, which is a great starting place for your fossil adventures. The Dinosaur Park in Maryland is now open.
Access the guide here (link to PDF)...
Visit Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Maryland...

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Florida

bulletPeace River

Suit up with flippers instead of boots! The Tampa Bay Fossil Club considers the Peace River the best river in the country to screen, snorkle, and SCUBA for fossils. Visiting the Peace River requires a $5 permit from the Florida Museum of Natural History. Get the permit here...

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Georgia

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Hawaii


Idaho

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Illinois

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Indiana

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Iowa


Kansas

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Kentucky

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Louisiana


Maine


Maryland

bulletCalvert Cliffs State Park

Fossil hunting can be done at the open beach area at the end of the red trail, approximately 1.8 miles from the parking lot. Over 600 species of fossils from the Miocene era (10 to 20 million years ago) have been identified in the Calvert Cliffs, many of which can be found at Calvert Cliffs State Park. Chesapectens, Ecphora, Miocene era oyster shells, and sharks teeth are common finds. Sieves and shovels can be used to sift the sand for fossils. Please keep in mind that the area beneath the cliffs is closed due to dangerous landslides and the potential for injury. It is illegal to collect fossils beneath the cliffs.
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bulletDinosaur Alley

There are many dino-sites within DC and suburban Maryland; some offer opportunities to stretch your legs. In 2007, The Washington Post published a guide to Dinosaur Alley, which is a great starting place for your fossil adventures. The Dinosaur Park in Maryland is now open.
Access the guide here (link to PDF)...
Visit Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Maryland...

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Massachusetts

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Michigan

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Minnesota

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Mississippi

bulletMississippi Petrified Forest Nature Trail

Walk along the Nature Trail and pause to read the Trail Guide at each point of interest. Moving at a leisurely pace, you begin to see the story of the Mississippi Petrified Forest (located in the town of Flora) unfold. Seeing all of the natural beauty surrounding the Trail, and hearing the sounds of nature, you will always be near to the huge logs that lie right next to the trail, some close enough to touch -- to feel the rugged roughness of stone beneath your fingers where there was once bark and wood - a living tree.
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Missouri

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Montana

bulletSacagawea Peak

North of Bozeman, the approximately 2 mile hike (moderate difficulty) to Sacagawea Peak goes through the fossiliferous Mississippian Madison Limestone down to the Cambrian.
Access the trail guide...

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Nebraska

bulletAgate Fossil Beds National Monument

Fossil Hills Trail
This 2.7 mile trail begins at the visitor center, crosses the Niobrara River wetlands (just a stream in these parts) and loops around University and Carnegie Hills, where the great bonebed of Agate was discovered in 1904. Signs point out certain historic and geologic features and identify plants along the way. An unpaved one mile side trail leads to the restored (outside only) 1910 homestead of Harold Cook, which was later used by the scientists as their "Bone Cabin" while working the fossil quarries.

Daemonelix Trail
This one mile trail travels through time, including ancient sand dunes and fossil grassland soils, as well as the curious spiral burrows (Devil's Corkscrews) of dry land beavers. Their now petrified homes formed colonies much like current prairie dogs and attracted early scientists to this region. The view from the top overlooking the historic Agate Springs Ranch and surrounding tableland is superb and reflects the vast openness of the land east of the Rocky Mountains.

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Nevada

bulletRed Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Moenkopi Loop
Triassic fossils and various desert flora can be seen on this open country trail which starts at the visitor center just west of the weather monitoring station and traverses a prominent limestone ridge. In addition to panoramic views of the Wilson Cliffs, there are connecting trails to the Calico Hills area (2 mile loop, easy).
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New Hampshire


New Jersey

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New Mexico

bulletSanta Fe Canyon Preserve

The Nature Conservancy's Santa Fe Canyon Preserve Trail is a 1.3 mile loop through the Santa Fe River riparian area and historic dam site. 300-million-year-old marine fossils are visible along the trail.
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Download the trail map (PDF)...

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New York

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North Carolina

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North Dakota

bulletTheodore Roosevelt National Park: Petrified Forest Loop

Located in the remote northwest corner of the South Unit, this 10.3 mi (16.6 km) hike takes you through ancient petrified forests and badlands wilderness. The loop includes the North and South Petrified Forest Trails as well as the Maah Daah Hey. Allow 5-6 hours.
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Ohio

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Oklahoma


Oregon

bulletJohn Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Sheep Rock Unit

  • Story in Stone Trail Foree Area (1/4 mile): This trail, accessible to those in wheelchairs, features touch exhibits with replica fossils. The trail offers short and longrange views of colorful landscapes.
  • Island In Time Trail Blue Basin Area (1 mile round trip): This gentle trail ascends along the canyon floor of blue-green badlands, which scientists have prospected for fossils since the late 1800's. Exhibits and fossil replicas tell the story of these remarkable exposures along this popular trail.

Painted Hills Unit

  • Leaf Hill Trail (1/4 mile): Accessible to those in wheelchairs, this drab looking hill was the scene of important scientific studies in the 1920's and 1990's. Thousands of leaf fossils found here helped give us our first glimpse of an ancient ecosystem 33 million years in age. A few fossils are on exhibit.

Clarno Unit

  • Trail of the Fossils (1/4 mile): This is the only trail in the park where one can readily see fossils in the rocks. Large boulders strewn below the Palisades cliff contain hundreds of visible plant fossils from junglelike forests that blanketed the region about 44 million years ago.
  • Clarno Arch Trail (1/4 mile hike): A moderate climb will bring you to the base of the Palisades cliff directly under a natural arch cut into the cliff by erosion. Petrified logs are visible in the cliff face.

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Pennsylvania

bulletPocono Environmental Educational Center

Fossil Trail
Length: 1.25 miles, one-way; Difficulty: Easy-Moderate; Blaze: Blue; Elevation change: 237 feet; Trailhead location: Pocono Environmental Educational Center (PEEC) parking lot; Brochure: PEEC trails bulletin. The center is located within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Fossil Trail is blazed blue and begins 20 yards up the campus road from the main building, across from group lodges A & B. The trail takes you past a vernal pool (seasonal wetland) important for breeding amphibians, and eventually descends into a beautiful mature hardwood ravine. After crossing a small stream, the trail begins to climb back up the other side of ravine. You will note a large sign depicting marine organisms found in this area hundreds of millions of years ago. These organisms can be found as fossils in the rock ledges to the right of the sign. Please leave your fossils for others to admire. The trail ends at PEEC's amphitheater site; follow PEEC's campus road back to the main building. Trail guides are available for a small donation at PEEC's nature center.
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Rhode Island


South Carolina


South Dakota

bulletBadlands National Park: Fossil Exhibit Trail

This easy, 0.25 mile (0.40 km) trail features replicas and exhibits of now extinct creatures that once roamed the area.
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Tennessee

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Texas

bulletGuadalupe Mountains National Park: Permian Reef Trail

For serious geology buffs, this trail has stop markers that can be used with a comprehensive geology guide, available at the park's Headquarters Visitor Center. There are excellent views into McKittrick Canyon from the top of Wilderness Ridge. The trail is 8.4 miles round-trip, rated strenuous with 2,000 feet of elevation gain.
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bulletLadonia Fossil Park: North Sulphur River

The riverbed and embankments of the North Sulphur River at Ladonia Fossil Park contain Cretaceous marine and Pleistocene (ice age) vertebrate fossils. The riverbed is typically accessible and dry within 3 days of any rain event. Do not hike the riverbed during rain events.
Download trail information (PDF)...

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Utah

Free Guided Hikes on June 1st at Poison Spider Dinosaur Track Site and Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail, hosted by Moab BLM Field Office. Download event information (PDF)...

bulletBureau of Land Management: Moab Field Office

Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracksite

The Copper Ridge site (north of Moab) features the tracks of a brontosaurus and four three-toed dinosaurs. The many different kinds and sizes of dinosaur tracks make Copper Ridge unique. The preservation of the tracks is fantastic, and this site is well worth a visit. There are sauropod tracks made by a brontosaur (probably a Camarasaurus, Apatosaurus, or Diplodocus), as well as Allosaurus and small mammal tracks, all dating back to the Jurassic period. The BLM has placed interpretive signs in the area, and parking is less than 100 yards from the site.
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Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail

Get a glimpse of an era when huge creatures roamed the earth. Dinosaur bone still encased in rock may be viewed in Mill Canyon (north of Moab) by following a short nature trail near the Monitor and Merrimac mountain bike/jeep trail. This is a short, self-guided interpretive trail. There are signs along the way and you can pick up a brochure/guide at the beginning of the trailhead.
Download June 1 event information (PDF)...
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Poison Spider Dinosaur Tracksite

From the center of Moab, travel north on Highway 191 for 5.9 miles and turn left on Highway 279 (Potash Road). Continue 6 miles from this junction until you reach the "Dinosaur Tracks" sign, and turn into the parking lot. Tracks can be viewed from here, or a short hike up the hill.
Download June 1 event information (PDF)...
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Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracksite

Travel on Route 191 north of Moab and turn right onto Willow Springs Road until you see the sign, or head into Arches National Park, and turn onto Willow Flats Road from the area by Balanced Rock. The tracks can be found just west of the Park's boundaries, just feet from the designated road. Requires a high clearance vehicle to visit, and a 4X4 vehicle is suggested.

bulletDinosaur National Monument: Fossil Discovery Trail

The 1.2 mile (one way) trail cuts through several tilted rock layers which expose a variety of rocks and three fossil areas. The Morrison Formation stop features an outcropping of several small fossil fragments and a few large pieces of dinosaur bones in their natural state, just as Earl Douglass found them in 1909.
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bulletWarner Valley Dinosaur Trackways

At the Warner Valley Dinosaur Trackways locality you can see 161 individual footprints and 23 trackways. The trackways at this locality include Grallator footprints (attributed to coelophysid dinosaurs such as Coelophysis) and Eubrontes footprints, which are likely produced by a Dilophosaurus-sized theropod. This locality provides an excellent opportunity to see where dinosaurs walked in the early Jurassic period. A short trail leads to the trackways and there is an information sign for visitors to read.
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Visit more sites in southwest Utah's "Color Country District"...

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Vermont


Virginia


Washington

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Wisconsin


Wyoming

bulletCottonwood Creek Dinosaur Trail (Alcova Lake)

This trail is located west of Casper at Alcova Reservoir on public lands administered by the Bureau of Reclamation. The trail crosses the fossiliferous Jurassic Sundance and Morrison formations. It is a favorite destination for Tate Geological Museum-guided school group hikes.
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bulletDry Creek Petrified Tree Environmental Education Area

The Dry Creek Petrified Tree Environmental Education Area (EEA) is about 13 miles east of Buffalo, Wyoming. About 60 million years ago the red sage hills and sagebrush country were a jungle-like swamp with towering Metasequoia trees. A 0.8 mile loop interpretive trail winds its way through portion of remnant petrified trees.
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bulletFossil Butte National Monument: Historic Quarry Trail

Hiking the 2.5 mile Historic Quarry Trail is a great way to experience the geology of Fossil Butte National Monument. The trail passes through parts of the Wasatch and Green River formations. A short side loop leads to the site of a historic fossil quarry on Fossil Butte. Wayside exhibits provide information about geology, area history, wildlife and plants of the high desert. The trail is moderately strenuous with a 200m (600') elevation gain. Allow 1.5-3 hours to hike the trail.
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bulletRed Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite

At BLM's Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite (near Worland), you can imagine yourself walking along an ocean shoreline 167 million years ago with dozens of other dinosaurs, looking to pick up a bite of lunch from what washed up on the last high tide. The ground is soft and your feet sink down in the thick ooze, leaving a clear footprint with every step you take.
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More to come...

This page will be updated frequently, check back regularly. Send us your suggestions!

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Last Updated: June 17, 2013