Archaeological and Paleontological Sites

Wyoming is a digger’s dream. Whether it’s dinosaur bones you seek, or fossils of a different life form, Wyoming offers all kinds of attractions, from museums to quarry tours to actual digs.

Check out full-size dinosaur skeletons or dig for a brand new find at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis. Here, the excavations are conducted on the Morrison Formation, a huge rock layer that is the source of the country’s most significant dinosaur discoveries. And at the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite in Shell, see fossil footprints from the Middle Jurassic Period.

Fossils of fish, insects, birds, plants and reptiles (including a 13-foot crocodile) are on display at the Fossil Butte National Monument, which holds the largest deposit of freshwater fish fossils in the Western hemisphere. The richest fossil fish deposits are found in limestone layers, about three feet thick, which lie some 100 feet below the top of the butte. Tynsky's Fossil Fish in Kemmerer lets visitors dig for fish and other fossils.

In some cases, visitors can keep their finds, as long as they’re not rare. Dig programs are most often offered in the summer, and some sites offer kids’ digs.

You might also want to visit a Late-Prehistoric Plains Indians' bison trap between Sundance and Beulah. The Vore Buffalo Jump features enormous quantities of bone and stone artifacts that are perfectly preserved in discrete, precisely datable layers held in place within a natural bowl. The site is open to visitors during the summer. It is excavated by a team from the University of Wyoming for two weeks (usually in early July) and you can watch the archaeologists at work.

Learn more about Wyoming's digging sites.