"Fossil Butte National Monu,ment" Wyoming Things to Do Tip by mtncorg

Wyoming Things to Do: 159 reviews and 314 photos

  Visitor Center and the escarpment of Fossil Butte
by mtncorg

Fossils usually mean minerals and the countryside around here is dotted with mining and energy plants - Dick Cheney is from Wyoming afterall. The world's largest strip mine - coal - is a few miles south; a nearby Exxon plant is the world's largest producer of helium; coke, natural gas, oil and sulfur are all also very important here.

11 miles west of Kemmerer - 1 .5 miles off US 30 - a 1000 foot high escarpment risies above the plain within which is the largest deposit of freshwater fish fossils in the Western Hemisphere - rivaled only by a similar deposit in Solenhofen, Germany. Fossils include perch, herring, paddlefish, stingray, and catfish along with turltles and plants. The fossils were first discovered when a railroad cut was made exposing the fossils.

The Visitor Center has lots of exhibits and displays describing the area's ancient past - the area was a lake within a subtropical climate zone 50 million years ago - and a little on palentology. It is open from 8:30-4:30 (8-5:30 in summer). No camping is allowed here - Kemmerer is the nearest town. No collecting of fossils is allowed, of course, but if you get real excited you can stop just out of the park and with a fee, you can dig your own fossils out of their quarry - Ulrich's Fossil quarry. There is a 2.5 mile round trip trail that takes you to the historic quarry site with interpretive signs en route.

Remember, if you are in the area - Kemmerer is where James Cash Penny began his nationwide chain of department stores - JC Penny. He opened his first Golden Rule store in the booming mining town in 1902. His house is downtown behind the Chamber of Commerce and the 'mother store' is a few doors up the street. The Golden Rule name was changed in 1914.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 31, 2003
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