Ladonia Fossil Park, Ladonia
For National Fossil Day, we visited Ladonia Fossil Park in Ladonia with the Dallas Paleontological Society and about 150 other eager fossil hunters! We had an amazing time searching along the riverbed for fossils, and the kids found several special ones, including a prehistoric bison femur.
Check out My Mommy Tips for making the most of your visit.
On October 15th at 11 am, join volunteers from Dallas Paleontological Society, Bois d’ Arc Chapter and the Blackland Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist will be present to assist at the park. Mick Tune of DPS will lead identifying finds and offering information about what is found. For more information on the week long activities, click HERE.
1. Know Before You Go
The Ladonia Fossil Park is so much a park as it is a place to park your car and walk down to the North Sulphur River to search for fossils in the river bed.
Free Admission and Free Parking
Open 365 Days a Year – Check weather and river levels before visiting.
No restrooms or any other facilities at all.
We had a little trouble finding it. From Ladonia, head out Tx-34 until you cross the North Sulphur River. The park is immediately on the left hand side of the road.
Check on the river. The best time to visit the Ladonia Fossil Park is after a rain, when more fossils have either been uncovered, or come down the river. However, it is a river, and don’t go if the water level is high. There is always a risk of a flash flood in a riverbed, so keep an eye out for an increase in water flow, which can come from rain a hundred miles away.
Bring a picnic lunch, there isn’t food for miles and miles.
2. What to take
The experienced fossil hunter takes a bucket for carrying the fossils, rubber boots for keeping feet dry and plenty of water to stay hydrated, and a small shovel or hand spade if you plan to dig in the river bank. I took my camera.
3. Entrance down to the River
In Texas, all navigable waterways are public property, meaning you can legally be anywhere in the river. However the land on either side of the river is public property, and should be respected. What makes Ladonia Fossil Park special is that you can park and use the stone steps as an easy way to get down into the river. Then, you can go as far up or downstream as you want!
4. Where to Look for Fossils
The easiest and most enjoyable, especially for younger children, is to just walk the riverbed looking for fossils. You can also stop in shallow areas and sift around in the pebbles for arrowheads and shark teeth. Large ammonites can be found under the flakey river bottom, but you must dig to find them. You can also dig in the riverbank walls for fossils. They are everywhere, and you never know what you might find!
5. What Fossil Can You Find
Common fossils in the river are ammonites and shark teeth. You can also find many fossil impressions in the rock.
Check the weather before visiting LFP. Not only do you not want to get caught in the river during a storm, the sun feels a few degrees hotter down in the river, where there is not as much of a breeze.
7. More than Fossils
Do you see the lighter colored line running across this river in this picture? If we never found a fossil I think seeing this would have been worth the drive to LFP. Any idea what it is? It’s a fault line, a crack in the earth that filled with a newer material. So cool!
8. Adherent Dangers
There can be sharp rocks or glass in the river, so keep shoes on your children.
I really want to find a large ammonite, and LFP is a great place to search. This is an impression of one. The actual ammonites are found by flipping up the layers of rock in the riverbed to find them.
Smaller fossils and arrowheads can be found by sifting in the pebbles along the river. This is a slower job, but it’s nice to sit down.
11. Fossil Day
The Dallas Paleontological Society and the Ladonia Chamber of Commerce hosted the Fossil Day Event. Paleontologist and Master Naturalist were on hand to help us identify our findings! It was so interesting to see what everyone found! For more information on the DPS, or more information on their other field trips, click HERE.
12. Mineral Wells Fossil Park
The Mineral Wells Fossil Park is another FREE park to find fossils. Located in an old quarry, it couldn’t be more different from Ladonia Fossil Park! Click HERE to read about our adventure there!
Ladonia Fossil Park
TX -34, Ladonia
Click HERE to visit the Ladonia Chamber website
Keep Having Fun in the TEXAS Sun!