National Fossil Day   Explore Nature
National Park Service
US Department of the Interior

Fossil Parks

map of U.S. showing location of fossil parks
At least 260 National Park System areas preserve fossil resources. Learn more...

More than 260 National Park Service areas preserve fossils (see map). At a national park, you can stand in the exact spot where a fossil tree was rooted or where a fossil animal walked millions of years ago. Some parks also preserve fossils in building stones or in association with American Indian artifacts.

Since 1916, The Organic Act has directed parks to "conserve the scenery" and natural objects, including fossils. In 2009, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act was signed into law, requiring parks to manage and protect fossils for scientific and educational values.

Fossils are irreplaceable! Fossils are non-renewable—nature is not making any more Tyrannosaurus rex fossils. Park staff and paleontologists work together to maintain fossils for scientific study and public education. It is exciting to find a fossil, but important to protect it. If you find a fossil in a park, leave the fossil where it is, take a photo, and share your discovery with a park ranger. Removing fossils from the sites where they were found will result in most of the interesting and valuable information about that fossil being lost forever.

Map of 260 National Parks with Known Fossil Resources
Map of 236 National Parks with Known Fossil Resources

Last updated: April 10, 2013