Lost in Time in Kemmerer, Wyoming's Fossil Basin

Dig up your own piece of history after leaving Yellowstone.
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Digging for fossils at Fossil Basin in Wyoming

Digging for fossils at Fossil Basin in Wyoming

Want to see a 52-million-year-old fish, turtle or crocodile fossil?

Head to the Kemmerer/Diamondville area (pronounced “Kemmer”) in southwest Wyoming to discover these fossils on your own at one of the area's private quarries that serve as 52-million-year-old limestone graveyards. At these private facilities, visitors can dig through layers of time, uncovering fish, plants, birds, insects and crocodiles.These affordable quarry digs provide a perfect souvenir. Fossils range from fossil fish, fossil plants, turtles, stingrays, birds and many forms of aquatic life. There also are fossils for sale in downtown Kemmerer. 

Visit Fossil Butte National Monument

Fifteen miles west of Kemmerer is Fossil Butte National Monument. View more than 300 fossils and interactive displays at the visitor center, hike the outdoor trails or drive the scenic route and have a picnic. Remember it is forbidden to remove fossils or disturb artifacts in the national monument.

During the summer at the monument, you can go on a guided tour, see fossil preparation demonstrations or tag along with a paleontologist in the scientific collection of fossils on Fridays and Saturdays.

Fossils on Cundick Ridge in Fossil Basin

Fossils on Cundick Ridge in Fossil Butte National Monument

Visit Historical Triangle Park In Kemmerer

The area also has a rich, more recent history of coal mining, railroads and bootlegging. Take a stroll through the historic Herschler Triangle Park to see the second J.C. Penney store in the nation. It was opened in 1902 by James Cash Penney. His original house in Kemmerer is a museum open to the public.

The park is named after Gov. Ed Herschler, a Kemmerer resident and former three-term Wyoming governor. His family still operates a cattle ranch in the area.

Visit the Crafter’s Cottage for locally made crafts and learn about the history of Wyoming at the Fossil Country Frontier Museum. Then grab a bite at local favorites like El Jalisciense and Ham’s Fork Grill and have a drink at The Stock Exchange, a functioning bar since 1902.

With a population of roughly 2,600 citizens, Kemmerer grew from roots in coal mining, railroads and bootlegging more than 100 years ago. In its former glory, the town's older houses had secret tunnels under them where people smuggled liquor, which was illegal under Prohibition. Consequently, the town used to be nicknamed “Lil Chicago” as an homage to Al Capone.

What makes Kemmerer/Diamondville special has to be the people. Locals still meet at Triangle Park, where car enthusiasts show off their old vintage cars. They enjoy the farmer’s market hosted on the weekend and wet their whistle at the 115-year-old bar, The Stock Exchange, built in 1902. If you need a bite to eat, locals recommend El Jalisciense and its massive burrito. 

Summertime In Kemmerer

In the summer, the Kemmerer city council hosts multiple festivals, such as the Oyster Ridge Music Festival and Fossil Fest. During Oyster Ridge Music Festival known as “Wyoming’s Largest Free Music Festival,” people come from all over to enjoy the family festivities as well as the bluegrass and country musicians, which takes place in late July. In 2020, the festival dates are Friday, July 24 through Sunday, July 26. 

Fossil Fest is a festival focused on family in downtown Kemmerer, with many recreational events happening such as a parade, beauty pageant, 5K run, dodgeball tournament and water fight, scheduled in June. 

More information:
(855) FOSSIL-0

Kemmerer Chamber of Commerce
Center of Town Square
1027 US-189, Kemmerer, WY 83101


Trail End State Historic Site, Sheridan, Wyomin

Wyoming Museums

Great museums to visit on your Yellowstone vacation from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center to the Teton Flood Museum and everything in between. Wyoming museums in Casper, Meeteetse, Cheyenne, Gillette, Evanston, Dubois, and Jackson Hole.