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 like Ulrich's Fossil Gallery, visitors can dig through layers of time, uncovering fish, plants, birds, insects and crocodiles to find a perfect souvenir. Fossils range from fossil fish, fossil plants, turtles, stingrays and birds. There also are fossils for sale in shops in downtown Kemmerer. 

Visit Fossil Butte National Monument

Fifteen miles west of Kemmerer is Fossil Butte National Monument, an uncrowded unique national park service gem. 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. Unlike private quarries, it's 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

Seedskadee Wildlife Refuge

About 35-45 minutes from town is Seedskadee Wildlife Refuge. Spanning more than 27,000 acres, the refuge is home to the Green River. Its name means “river of the prairie hen” in Shoshone. This wildlife haven offers more than 250 species of wildlife critical habitat. Stop into the visitor center to learn more about the area and to check out its exhibits. Summer hours are Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

With shallow and swift water, the river offers great fishing, as well as kayaking and canoeing. Both the Oregon and Mormon trails cross the refuge, and ferries used to help travelers cross the Green River. Today, put your kayak in at Slate Creek Campground and float to Upper Dodge Bottoms Boat Ramp. This will take about thee hours, depending on water flows and wind and the strength of the kayaker. 

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 and see the first J.C. Penney store in the nation. It was opened in 1902 by James Cash Penney. His original house in Kemmerer is a museum just down the block from the J.C. Penney store.

Historic Herschler Triangle Park lies in the heart of downtown Kemmerer. 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.

Then learn about the history of Wyoming at the Fossil Country Frontier Museum. Afterwards, 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. 

More information:
(855) FOSSIL-0
www.fossilbasin.org

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

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