Fossil Hunting

Go hunting for for fossils in Fossil, Oregon!

Digging Fossils in Fossil, Oregon

The Fossil Beds at Wheeler High School are a perfect place where you can dig for and keep fossils.  The fossil beds are open to the public in late spring and close on October 31 for the winter.  Admission cost is $5.00 per person and goes toward helping fund  science, educational and art programs in the Fossil Charter School.  Larger group discount rates are available with advanced reservations.  For more information, please contact the District Office at (541) 763-4384.

While in Fossil, Oregon, we highly encourage you to swing by the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute(OPLI)* where you will find a collection of science, nature and kids books, a gallery featuring local artisan’s work, information about area attractions and fresh, organic coffee.  Here you will get the gear you need to go out and explore the John Day Basin and learn more about the area sites and attractions.
*Regardless of what the website states, you will want to be sure to call ahead to confirm OPLI Field office is open. 

Thomas Condon Paleontology Center

Thomas Condon Paleontology Center

Visit the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument – Thomas Condon Paleontology Center located approximately 40 miles from Service Creek.  This state of the art center features incredible exhibits that include fossils collected from the John Day Basin.  This spectacular center serves as a great visual reference for what this area once looked like and what creatures roamed the earth.  As of now, there is no admission fee, but a donation is strongly encouraged to keep this gem up and operational.

Fossil Hunting~The Rules about collecting–and not collecting:

While the John Day Fossil Beds are a world-renowned fossil locality, they are now part of a National Monument, and also part of the National Park system.  COLLECTING FOSSILS OR ROCKS (or anything else) is prohibited on the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument without a permit–permits are granted only for research purposes.  All collecting is also prohibited on the Pine Creek Ranch, Warm Springs Tribal lands.  Collect VERTEBRATE fossils on other federal or state lands is prohibited without a permit.  You may, however, collect PLANT FOSSILS and INVERTEBRATE  (mollusks, worms, ammonites, trace fossils, etc.)  FOSSILS on Federal BLM and U.S. Forest Services lands without a permit.

If you are going to look for fossils or rocks on your own, please check with local BLM and USFS field offices for up-to-date collecting information before you head out.  And also please be sure you are in public lands for hiking and collecting.