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Upcoming National Fossil Day Events, Part 2

Howdy folks!

National Fossil Day is fast approaching (October 11, 2017), and with that annual celebration comes many events across the U.S. Dozens of museums are planning events and activities for individuals, families, and educational groups to learn about fossils and fossil resources in the United States.

Below is part 2 of an ever-growing list of  events celebrating National Fossil Day, and we will continue to build this list as we hear about additional events (See Part 1 here!). If you or your museum/institution/group are planning events or activities for National Fossil Day and you don’t see it on this list, please contact John-Paul Hodnett, and we will include it in a part 3 of this list. (And, once again, a big thanks to John-Paul, who compiled this list!)

The events listed below are arranged by location. Not all of these events are happening on October 11, so be sure to check the date and institution’s individual websites for hours, admission, and location. Info for the events below will be updated as necessary. Find a local event near you and celebrate the United States’ fossil heritage with fun activities and volunteer opportunities!


  •  Petrified Forest National Park, October 11th, 9 am–3pm
    • Fossil Preparation – 9am–12pm & 1pm–3pm @ The Painted Desert Visitor Center Complex: Park paleontologists will be working on preparing fossils found in Petrified Forest National Park for the public to see. Come take a look and ask us questions!
    • Make Your Own Fossil Cast – 9am–12pm & 1pm–3pm @ The Painted Desert Visitor Center Complex: We’ll have real fossils for visitors to choose from and make a replica of to take home. Come choose from your favorite Triassic animal!
    • Fossil Preparation Lab Tour – 11am & 2pm, Meet Inside the Painted Desert Visitor Center: A park paleontologist will take you around our preparation lab and give you an inside view of what our scientist do on a daily basis.
    • Triassic Talk – 11am & 2pm @ Crystal Forest Shade Shelter: Come learn about what The Petrified Forest looked like 220 million years ago during the Late Triassic.
    • Conversation & Cookies with a Park Paleontologist 1:30pm–3:30pm @ Rainbow Forest Museum. Come eat some cookies and chat with park paleontologists. They’ll be there to answer all your burning questions about the Late Triassic and paleontology in general.
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Carl Hayden Visitor Center, US-89, Lake Powell, AZ 84533, October 11th, 12 pm–5 pm
    • Please join us for a fossil fun-filled day celebrating the paleontology of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area! Come and learn what massive creatures roamed the earth 66 million years ago! You can learn about the prehistoric past on Glen Canyon NRA and help real-life paleontologists dig for fossils! You can even become a Junior Paleontology Ranger! This hands-on event is for kids of all ages. Also:
    • Help Decorate a Jurassic-Triassic landscape
    • Touch real Dinosaur tracks


  • Western Science Center, 2345 Searl Parkway, Hemet, CA 92543, October 7th, 10:30 am–1pm
    • The Western Science Center will be celebrating National Fossil Day on October 7th with The Science of Being a Paleontologist. Guests of all ages will have the opportunity to meet the scientists who work at the Western Science Center (as well as the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology and the University of California Riverside Earth Science department) and learn how they too can become a paleontologist. Science Saturdays are free family events held outside on the piazza of the Western Science Center from 10:30am – 1pm. Activities for Science Saturdays are free – there is an additional fee to enter the museum. Children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Contact: Brittney Stoneburg, # 951-791-0033. Ext. 221,
  • Ameal Moore Nature Center and University of California Riverside Department of Earth Sciences, Ameal Moore Nature Center, 400 Central Ave Riverside, CA 92507, October 14th, 11 am–2 pm
    • Fossil Day of our own! Come out Saturday, October 14 for this fun event as we dig through time for a glimpse at how the world has looked throughout the ages! This event is free and family friendly. Touch and see real fossils, talk with paleontologists, paint “fossils” to take home, dig up different time period, and come on a guided hike through the history of life! Contact Information : Jess Miller-Camp (jessmc@ucr.ed) and Kim Cobb (
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, October 14th, 11 am–2 pm
    • Join Dr. Jonathan Hoffman, Earth Science Collection Manager, to explore what fossils can tell us about past climate, sea level, ecology, vegetation, and more. Look through microscopes to compare pygmy and Columbian mammoth diets, learn about trace fossils, explore the island effect, and discover why Santa Barbara is so geologically unique compared to other parts of California. Plus, kid-friendly activities including: mineral replacement demonstrations, create your own mock fossil casts and more! FREE with paid admission. Information: Call Stefanie Coleman at 805-682-4711 ext. 170 or


  • University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Main Campus, 1030 Broadway, Boulder, CO, October 11th, 11 am–1 pm
    • Celebrate National Fossil Day with the CU Museum of Natural History! We’ll be outside the north entrance of the museum with our chocolate fondue pot so you can design your own trilobite cookie while learning amazing facts about these diverse creatures from long ago. Explore real trilobite fossils, make a trilobite magnet, and piece together the trilobite puzzle. Come by at lunchtime 11:00 am – 1:00 pm or for a late afternoon snack 3:00 – 5:00 pm. Join us for a bite of fun in the middle of your day or after school! FREE. Contact Information: Phone: 303-492-1666, Email:


  • Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N Main St, Rockford, IL 61103, October 7th, 10 am–3 pm
    • Meet local fossil collectors and exhibitors, participate in hands on activities. Christopher Noto will be giving a talk on “Killer Crocs and Giant Turtles: the Lost World of Cretaceous Texas. Jane’s real skull will be on display!  A rare treat hardly ever brought out of collections! Contact Information: 815-965-3433


  • Museum of the Rockies, 600 W. Kagy Blvd., Bozeman, MT 59717, October 11th, 5 pm–7 pm
    • Join MOR paleontologists in our annual celebration of National Fossil Day. New for this year, enjoy free admission* and pizza for $1 per slice. Meet real paleontologists, watch a dinosaur-themed Planetarium show, and explore select specimens from MOR’s mammal fossil collection. Children ages 5 – 12 can continue our Fossil Fest tradition by earning an official “Junior Paleontologist” badge or certificate from the National Park Service by completing hands-on activities. With more engaging activities, more program partners, and more to see and do, this year’s celebration of fossils is guaranteed to inspire young budding paleontologists! *Only MOR’s Siebel Dinosaur Complex will be open during this free event. For more information, please call 406-994-5257 or email


  • University of Nebraska State Museum, 645 North 14th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0338, October 5th, 5 pm–8pm
    • In celebration of National Fossil Day, the University of Nebraska State Museum invites children and families to a special paleontology-themed night from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 5 at Morrill Hall, 645 N. 14th St. The event will feature activities that dig into the work of paleontology, led by state museum paleontologists. Visitors will learn what a fossil is, have the opportunity to dig and sort for fossils and learn more about sister museum Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. Mueller Planetarium will present the full dome show “Dinosaurs at Dusk” at 6 and 7 p.m. Lincoln City Libraries will lead a dinosaur-themed story time at 6:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome to bring a fossil for a scientist to identify.

New Jersey

  • The New Jersey State Museum, 205 W State St, Trenton, NJ 08608, October 10th–October 13th, 9am–4 pm
    • During Earth Science Week, the New Jersey State Museum will have staff and volunteers in our public laboratory from 9AM-4PM, Tuesday (October 10th) through Friday (October 13th).  The laboratory windows will be open and our paleontologists will be pleased to talk about their work and answer questions about anything in the Natural History Hall. All visitors will be greeted with the news that this is Earth Science Week and shown the emblem of National Fossil Day. The New Jersey State Museum has significant fossils of early fishes, much like those on the National Fossil Day 2017 Logo, and we will show actual specimens to everyone. Some of the specimens will be from the Devonian of Beartooth Butte, Wyoming (U.S. Forest Service Permit) and some will be from the Silurian of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, NJ and PA (U.S. National Park Service Permit).
      • The New Jersey State Museum is located in the State Capital area, 205 West State Street, Trenton, New Jersey, near the Statehouse. The Natural History Hall is on the Second Floor. Free parking is available in the State Capitol Garage near the Museum; simply explain to the State Troopers that you are visiting the New Jersey State Museum. For further information contact David C. Parris, Curator of Natural History, telephone 609-984-3846 or e-mail:

New York

  • Department of Earth Sciences and Geography / A. Scott Warthin Museum of Geology &Natural History, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604, October 18th, 3 pm–5pm
    • It’s National Fossil Day! Join the students and faculty of the Vassar College Department of Earth Science and Geography to learn more about past life, the geological history of New York and Dutchess County, and what fossils can teach us about climate change and the environment. Organized by the National Park Service, National Fossil Day celebrates the amazing diversity of life that once occupied the Earth. We will have paleontologists to answer your questions and lots of fossils on hand to explore. Contact: John Fronimos,

North Dakota

  • Fargo Public Library, Main Library, 102 3rd Street North, Fargo, ND 58102, October 7th, starting at 10 am.
    • Celebrate National Fossil Day: Paleozoic Life on Land & Sea- Kids ages 5 and older are invited to the Main Library on Saturday, Oct. 7 to join Dr. Lydia Tackett and Jessie Rock from NDSU’s Dept. of Geosciences for another National Fossil Day celebration! Beginning at 10 a.m., we’ll “dig” for real Paleozoic fossils, reconstruct Paleozoic seascapes, go fishing in the weird Ediacaran seas, experience hands-on activities with real fossils, and meet paleontologists from NDSU. No registration is required for this event. Contact information- Cynthia Mason, 701-241-1495


  • The Ohio State University, School of Earth Sciences, Orton Geological Museum, Orton Hall, 155 South Oval Mall, Columbus OH, 43210, October 11th, 12:30 pm–4:30 pm
    • National Fossil Day-The event will include a fossil match game (winners qualify to win a Devonian trilobite), an opportunity to have any fossils identified free of charge, a free guided tour of the geology museum fossil displays (every half hour; self-guided tours possible during entire event), and a free Devonian brachiopod for joining in the celebration of National Fossil Day. Contact information: Professor Mark Kleffner is hosting the event. Contact info is, 419-995-8208
  • Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, Ohio 43215, October 11th, 12 pm–1 pm
    • Join us for a Statehouse Fossil Tour—a geology tour of the Statehouse with special guest Dale M. Gnidovic, Curator of the OSU Orton Geological Museum. Experts will discuss the “Building Stones of Capitol Square.” Contact information- 614-728-2130 or
  • Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Drive, Cleveland, OH 44106, October 14th, 10 am–close
    • Dig into archaeology, geology, mineralogy and more from 10am to 4pm Saturday, October 14. This event is included with general admission. Members get in free! Non-members: free with general admission
      • Bring in a fossil, rock, mineral or artifact for identification
      • Try primitive technologies like atlatl spear throwing (weather permitting)
      • Tour the Seismic Observatory and hear about recent earthquake activity
      • Talk with Museum curators, volunteers and staff from the departments of Archaeology, Invertebrate Paleontology, Mineralogy, Paleobotany & Paleoecology and Vertebrate Paleontology
      • Meet guest scientists and representatives from local clubs and societies including the Cleveland Geological Society, the Cleveland Grotto of the National Speleological Society and the Summit Lapidary Club
      • Enter free geology raffles and listen for winners every hour (must be present to win)
      • Create a kid-friendly craft to take home in Smead Discovery Center on the Museum’s lower level


  • Crescent Park Senior Living, 2951 Coburg Road, Eugene, OR 97408, October 11th, 11 am
    • Celebrate National Park Services National Fossil Day with an educational presentation on Oregon Fossils. Featured in numerous magazines and guides about Oregon, meet “Oregon Fossil Guy” Guy DiTorrice here at Crescent Park, and learn about the wonderful Oregon Coast. Guy will present an entertaining overview of the wide variety of Miocene-age fossils found in the gravel and cobble piles below sea cliffs and on sandy beaches along Oregon’s rugged coastline. See actual fossils that have been found and learn how they were created.


  • The Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1700 West Montgomery Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19121, November 2nd, Doors open at 5:30 pm for a wine and cheese reception, tour starts promptly at 6 pm
    • Evening with an Expert, How Modern Research Illuminates Our Fossil Collection with Dr. Jason Downs. The Wagner’s fossil collection is vast and diverse—it started with William Wagner’s extensive European trading in the mid-19th century and grew with the Institute’s later expeditions in the Southeastern U.S. In this Evening with an Expert, Wagner faculty member Jason Downs will share contemporary research that sheds new light on a handful of our fossil specimens, including the ichthyosaurs and dinosaurs. In addition to today’s research, Dr. Downs will explore the history of the specimens to reveal how our understanding of the prehistoric life has changed from the 19th century to now.
    • Tour is limited to 20 participants.
    • Cost: $30; $20 for members* Purchase tickets at:, or call Cara Scharf at 215-763-6529 x24 to purchase tickets over the phone.

South Dakota

  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 501 East St. Joseph Street Rapid City, SD 57701, October 11th, 12 pm–4pm
    • Rock and Fossil ID Day- Student volunteers from the Paleo Club at SD Mines will set up tables and identify rocks and fossils brought in by members of the public as well as give brief descriptions of the environments that created or fossilized said specimens. The Museum of Geology is located on the third floor of the O’Harra building on the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology campus. Contact- | 605-394-2467


  • Mayborn Museum, Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex, 1300 S University Parks Drive, Waco, TX 76706, October 11th, 10 am–2 pm
    • Make a Fossil from 10 am-12 pm: Visitors will get to simulate the process of fossilization. Ask a Paleontologist from 10 am-2 pm: A geoscientist from Baylor University will share information about the life of a paleontologist. Visitors will explore the ways that paleontologists work, and the methods and tools they use to understand ancient life. Activities are included with the purchase of an admission ticket.
  • Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, 1 Nature Pl, McKinney, TX 75069, October 14th, 1:30 pm–4:00 pm
    • Fossil Day Celebration! Come explore the exciting world of fossils with members of the Dallas Paleontological Society. Learn about ancient Texas, see casts of animals, and become a member of the “PIT” Crew (Paleontologists in Training). You can even bring in your own fossils and have them identified. Contact information: 972-562-5566,
  • Ladonia Fossil Park, Program at Fannindel High School, 601 W. Main St., Ladonia, TX and hunting following at the Ladonia Fossil Park on Hwy 34, October 14th, 8:30 am–3 pm
    • National Fossil Day at North Sulphur River- National Fossil Day Program with fossil exhibit and presentation plus group hunting at the Ladonia Fossil Park assisted by guides from Texas Master Naturalists, Dallas Paleontology and Chamber of Commerce of Ladonia. Team effort by: City of Ladonia; Texas Master Naturalist, Bois d’ Arc Chapter; Chamber of Commerce of Ladonia; Texas Master Naturalist, Backland Prairie Chapter; Dallas Paleontological Society; and National Park Service. Contact information: PK, 214-794-2110,; Doug, 903-456-2687
  • Dallas Zoo, 650 SRL Thornton Fwy, Dallas, TX, 75203, October, 11th, 9 am–4 pm
    • Join us in celebrating National Fossil Day with special exhibits, games and activities in the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo. Fossils are some of the most popular items traded in the Nature Exchange, our wildly popular swap shop for nature items. Nature Exchange traders of all ages can bring in natural items to earn points, which they can then use to “buy” items brought in by other traders.


  • Stonerose Interpretive Center & Eocene Fossil Site, 15 N Kean St, Republic, WA 99166, October 6th–8th, 8 am–5 pm
    • This October 6th–8th (note! this is a date change from a previous post) Stonerose is hosting its 7th Annual National Fossil Day (NFD) event.  The program will include Kid’s Day on Friday, painting the popular geologic timeline on part of Kean Street; Saturday, scientific presentations and discussions, a dinner and silent auction and lots of digging for fossils.   Plan to take part in celebrating NFD at Stonerose! All listed events are open to the public!
  • Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, 17th Ave. NE & NE 45th St. Seattle, WA 98105, October 11th, 10 am–5 pm
    • Celebrate National Fossil Day and see live fossil preparation at the Burke! The doors will be open to our Testing, Testing 1-2-3 fossil prep lab so you can get up close to examine the incredible progress our paleontologists are making on the “Tufts-Love” T. rex skull and other fossils. Contact information:, 206.616.3962

Again, this is a growing list. If we’re missing your activity, let us know! We will release a Part 2 of this list here at PLOS Paleo soon!

Featured Image: Courtesy Bureau of Land Management Tumblr, Photo by Ray Rogers, Malaster College.

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