History & Heritage
Explore Fossil Basin and uncover the area’s rich history. While it’s known for it’s paleontological past, there’s plenty more history to dig into. When visiting the Fossil Basin area, a great place to start is the Fossil Country Frontier Museum. The museum features artifacts and information about the area’s past. Exhibits include a replica of an underground coal mine, bootlegging stills, fossils and much more.
Another important part of Fossil Basin history happened in the early 1900s. In 1902, the first J.C. Penney store opened in Kemmerer, Wyoming. The JCPenney Kemmerer Mother Store is still in operation and sells current merchandise. It also features a museum portion with historical artifacts, including a pulley system that was used to deliver cash receipts. In addition to visiting the original JCPenney store, during the summer months, tours are available at the J.C. Penney Homestead, the home of James Cash “J.C.” Penney, Jr., who founded JC Penney. The J.C. Penney Homestead is a National Historic Landmark located just down the block from the ‘Mother Store.’
Located in Fossil Butte National Monument, the Haddenham Cabin is another piece of Kemmerer area history. The cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was a fossil hunter’s dwelling in the early 1900s.
Fossil Hunting & Digging
Unearth a fossil fish in a 52-million-year-old limestone graveyard! The Fossil Basin area has multiple ‘dig-your-own’ fossil quarries located in the hills surrounding ancient Fossil Lake, just west of Kemmerer and Diamondville. When fossil hunting at a private quarry, generally you’ll be able to take home at least some of the common fish fossils that you dig up. Going fossil digging at a private quarry is an incredible experience for people of all ages, especially those interested in the geological history of Earth.
Fossil Butte National Monument is a must-see attraction in the Kemmerer-Diamondville area. At the visitors center, over 300 fossils are displayed, including 10 species of mammals and 15 species of reptiles. These fossils have been found from Fossil Lake, the ancient lake in southwest Wyoming. Fossil Butte National Monument also offers a fossil quarry program during the summer, where you can help look for fossils and learn about the work that paleontologists do. The ranger talks offered also provide a great opportunity to learn more about the area’s history and Fossil Butte’s ecosystem.
Fossil Basin is home to a handful of fossil shops where you can purchase fossils that have been unearthed from the Green River Formation and other places around the world. You’ll also find rocks and other specimens at most of these shops.
Stop in and see some incredible pieces, and maybe even find something to take home with you!
Discover the outdoors in Kemmerer-Diamondville. The Fossil Basin area offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities including hunting, fishing, four-wheeling, wildlife viewing, and bird watching.
The Hams Fork River has multiple access points for fishing near Kemmerer. Other options for fishing in the area include Fontanelle Creek Recreation Area and Smiths Fork.
The Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of activities including fishing, hunting, boating, wildlife watching, and hiking. The refuge is home to a diversity of wildlife including trumpeter swans, moose, pronghorn antelope, bald and golden eagles, elk, river otters, and more.
About 30 miles north of Kemmerer, WY is the Fontenelle Creek Recreation Area which has reservoir access with a fully functional boat ramp, boat dock, campground, picnic tables, and other amenities.
Part of the Bridger-Teton National Forest lies not too far from Kemmerer, providing recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, horseback riding, ATVing, and snowmobiling.
Quarry Stories: Fossil Safari
By Wolf Johnson When you think of the word “safari”, you may think about traveling across the world and exploring an exotic destination with some unique wildlife. However, south of Kemmerer, Wyoming, you can embark on a different safari, one that will take you millions of years back in time. At Warfield Fossils’ Fossil Safari, […]
Fossil Basin Featured in ‘Smithsonian’
Fossil Basin is featured in the September, 2022 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. The article, titled “The 50 Million-Year-Old Treasures of Fossil Lake,” explores the ancient history of the region, as well as the and culture surrounding the prehistoric lake and fossil digging. “’You’ve got schools of fish, you’ve got babies and adults. You’ve got predators and […]
The Taboo & Tragic Past of Kemmerer, WY
By Wolf Johnson Right off the interstate in southwestern Wyoming is the small town of Kemmerer. It’s one of those “blink-and-you-might-miss-it” towns. But, underneath millenniums of sediment, centuries of history and years of stories, you’ll not only see a small Wyoming town, but a true pinnacle of the Wild West. Early Days Kemmerer was established […]
Quarry Stories: American Fossil Quarry
When digging in one of the quarries near Kemmerer, WY, don’t let yourself feel like a “fish out of water” when you start finding, well, fish out of water. The area is home to not only centuries of fascinating community history, but millions of years of incredible biological and geological history. Here in Lincoln County, […]
5-tägige Reiseroute: Fossil Basin und Yellowstone & Grand Teton Nationalparks
Die Nationalparks Yellowstone und Grand Teton stehen auf der Liste der meistbesuchten Orte in Wyoming ganz oben. Doch weit entfernt von den Menschenmassen in Jackson und den Nationalparks liegt Kemmerer eingebettet in die sanften Hügel und den strahlend blauen Himmel am westlichen Rand des Cowboy-Staates. Nimm dir die weniger befahrene Straße und finde ein grünes […]
2022 Oyster Ridge Music Festival
On July 22nd and 23rd, several artists will take the stage at Triangle Park in Kemmerer, WY for the 2022 Oyster Ridge Music Festival. This year’s lineup includes Big Head Todd & the Monsters, The Band of Heathens, Town Mountain, and others. Oyster Ridge Music Festival continues to be Wyoming’s largest free music festival. The […]