Collecting fossils is a fun and educational outdoor activity for people of all ages. Responsible collecting preserves fossils that would otherwise be destroyed by natural physical and chemical weathering of rocks. Knowledgeable amateur paleontologists who record data with their finds and share information with professionals have contributed significantly to the field of paleontology. Some have authored or co-authored scientific papers. Others have had fossils named after them!
Fossils can be viewed and photographed at many state and local parks and in the stone walls of many public buildings. Public sites that allow the collection (removal) of fossils are more limited, but some excellent sites are listed below. Some require free permits and are subject to certain restrictions. Many more sites are located on private land. These sites always require permission to enter and in some cases require specialized safety training. Access to these private sites and safety training can often be obtained through membership in the clubs devoted to amateur paleontology, also listed below. For an overview of the types of fossils that could be collected in Ohio, see our Fossils in Ohio page.
Public Fossil Collecting Sites in Ohio
Refer to the map and expand the panes below to learn more about each of Ohio's publicly accessible fossil collecting sites.
1. FOSSIL PARK
5705 Centennial Rd.
Sylvania, OH 43560
Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through online reservations.
2. OAKES QUARRY PARK
1267 E Xenia Dr.
Fairborn, OH 45324
Please collect only from designated piles.
3. HUESTON WOODS STATE PARK
6301 Park Office Rd.
College Corner, OH 45003
Check with a naturalist before collecting.
4. CAESAR CREEK STATE PARK
4020 N Clarksville Rd.
Waynesville, OH 45068
Must first obtain permit from Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center — Call (513) 897-1050.
5. TRAMMEL FOSSIL PARK
11935 Tramway Dr.
Sharonville, OH 45241
6. EAST FORK STATE PARK
2185 Slade Rd.
Batavia, OH 45103
Must first obtain permit from Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center — Call (513) 797-6081.
Things to Bring
- Appropriate footwear and clothing
- Cell phone (for emergencies, maps and directions, compass, and GPS)
- First aid kit (small one for backpack, larger one for car)
- Water and food/snacks
- Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
- Bug spray
- Hat, gloves, and knee pads
- Plastic or cloth bags and small containers for specimens
- Permanent marker (for labeling containers)
- Hand lens/magnifying glass
- Notebook and pencil or pen
- Specimen labels (see sample label, below)
- Tools (if allowed), such as rock hammer, chisel, shovel
- Safety glasses
- Backpack to carry everything
- A friend (fossil collecting is safer and more fun with good company!)
Sample Specimen Label
To make your fossil collection valuable to science, it is very important to keep information with your specimens. Paleontologists and museums have no interest in specimens without accurate data! A good practice is to toss a label, like the one below, in your collecting bag before leaving each site. Include the location, date, and collector information at a minimum. Later, as you identify specimens and add them to your collection, you can transfer this information to labels for individual specimens. Keeping a field notebook with dated entries is another good practice.