Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve
Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve is one of the best-known fossil parks in the United States. It’s located close to Niagara Falls and is home to a seemingly inexhaustible and well-preserved supply of 380-million year old Devonian age fossils from an ancient coral reef.
This is an extremely fossil-rich location and visitors can collect and keep whatever fossils they find.
What to Expect:
Penn Dixie is a one-day entry site that offers two different experiences for fossil-hunters.
For those who want to try their luck and go at their own pace, there is a general admission entry. Short, guided introductory tours leave every 30 minutes. Basic fossil hunting tools are provided.
For an exclusive experience, private expeditions are available for small groups of 2 – 8 people who are interested in experiencing fossil hunting in the true style of field paleontology. Your guide — a knowledgeable and experienced member of our staff — will take you on a journey through our 54-acre park in search of a range of fossils.
During the two-hour guided private expedition, you’ll visit our most prolific spots where you’re guaranteed to find fossils — all of which you can keep for your collection. Your guide will also take you to some unexpected places in search of more exotic fossils, including armored fish and the legendary “golden” trilobite. After the guided portion, you can remain on site for as long as you like to continue collecting at your leisure.
All private expedition participants will receive a copy of the book Field Guide to Devonian Fossils by Karl Wilson to keep and use to i.d. the fossils they find at Penn Dixie.
The park is open rain or shine, and is only canceled if there is lightning.
What to Bring:
All the tools needed for fossil-hunting will be provided, but you will need to dress appropriately for work in the quarry. Closed shoes will protect your feet from sharp rocks and sunglasses or goggles will protect eyes. Dress in layers for weather changes and protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and shade hats (e.g., fedoras or pith helmets) to protect.
Of note: There is no running water on site, but there are portable toilets available for visitors’ use. There are a few pavilions with picnic tables available on a “first come, first serve” basis.
Dr. Holly Schreiber
Penn Dixie Fossil Park
What makes your site significant?
Penn Dixie Fossil Park is the #1 fossil park in the United States. It is a significant paleontological site due to its extremely well-preserved, abundant, and diverse Devonian-aged marine fossils. The sheer abundance of fossils at Penn Dixie allows all visitors to dig for, and keep, their own fossils. Furthermore, Penn Dixie is unique because of its accessibility – all ages and backgrounds can learn about fossils, Devonian-age marine life, and Earth’s history in an easy-to-access former quarry.
What has been most surprising about your discoveries at this location?
The most surprising aspect of Penn Dixie Fossil Park is the abundance and diversity of fossils. Several species of coral and crinoids, over a dozen species of brachiopods, and multiple species of trilobites. It’s a true slice of the Devonian.
What are your current research objectives at your site?
Penn Dixie’s primary objective is to promote the hands-on study of natural sciences both at the fossil park and out in the community.
What was most important or rewarding find at this site?
The most rewarding experience is to see visitors, especially children, get excited about paleontology and science. Penn Dixie helps foster a love of learning and discovery in any generation.
All the digs featured on Ancient Odysseys are non-profits and rely upon visitors and donations to continue their important scientific work. Please consider donating if you would like to support this organization's mission. All donations are tax deductible.
Late April - mid-June | Weekends
Labor Day - mid-October | Weekends
Late June - Labor Day | Mon-Sat 9am-4:30pm
Penn Dixie General Admission
$13~Students, Veterans, 62+
Participation is subject to availability and is at the full discretion of the dig location. Prices and dates dates subject to change.