Looking for Good Secret Fossil-finding Destinations
August 10, 2006 9:25 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are driving from Lawrence, Kansas to Madison, Wisconsin soon, and on the way back, we want to find some fossils.

Does anyone know of any reasonably unpicked-over/worn out or fairly "secret" fossil—or interesting rocks—hotspots between Madison and Lawrence? We haven't decided on our travel route at all, and we'd be willing to go out of our way (a hundred miles or so east or west out of Madison) to find some good fossils.
posted by interrobang to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You can go to Cave of the Mounds on Hwy 151, west of Madison. I've found lots of fossils in the river bluffs and caves around Platteville (also on Hwy 151) but some of that was on private land. All of SW Wisconsin is pretty fossil rich so it may be a matter of hiking along some of the road cuts and seeing what you can find.
posted by JJ86 at 9:54 AM on August 10, 2006


Hit Cedar Rapids on I-380 (north from Iowa City) and then take highway 151 up to Madison. The route to Madison is NW from CR, but if you stick around, you could go visit Palisades-Kepler State Park (about 12mi east of CR), where you can find ice-age fossils just lying about. As kids, we used to visit there and take for granted the fossils that you could pick up -- even the occasional geode.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:55 AM on August 10, 2006


You do know that if you find any fossil evidence in Kansas, that it was planted by supporters of the evolution hoax, right?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:29 AM on August 10, 2006


Yeah, that's why we want some fossils from outside of Kansas. Everything here is made of plaster.
posted by interrobang at 10:36 AM on August 10, 2006


thanotopsis mentioned: The route to Madison is NW from CR, but if you stick around, you could go visit Palisades-Kepler State Park (about 12mi east of CR), where you can find ice-age fossils just lying about.

First, Madison is NE of Cedar Rapids not NW. Second, I don't know what the laws are in state parks in Iowa, but in most places I know, taking fossils from state land is a big no-no. It's better to stick with private land where you can get owner permission.
posted by JJ86 at 10:41 AM on August 10, 2006


Are you (or your GF) a Geology student at KU? I did my Masters there in the early 90s and can direct you to a ton of locations in and around the Lawrence/KC area.

Check out the Devonian Fossil Gorge. Collecting is probably illegal at the actual park site, and I cannot vouch for this location (never been), but it sounds promising.
posted by daveleck at 11:06 AM on August 10, 2006


daveleck, we're not geologists, or geology students—we just both love fossils. Any locations around Lawrence/KC would be great to hear about!
posted by interrobang at 11:11 AM on August 10, 2006


If you swing by Lindley Hall before your trip and talk to the Geology foks, they will almost certainly hook you up with places to visit. The Kansas Geological Survey (15th and Iowa) also has public outreach folks who can help load you up with collecting sites. I was an RA there during my grad school tenure and took lots of groups of 'civilians' on outreach trips.
posted by daveleck at 11:21 AM on August 10, 2006


Sorry - the KGS is at 19th and Iowa. Of course, you probably knew that...
posted by daveleck at 11:31 AM on August 10, 2006


Thanks for the tips, daveleck, we'll try those out!
posted by interrobang at 11:33 AM on August 10, 2006


I remember digging for fossils (and finding them) at Lone Star Lake just south (?) of Lawrence about 40 years ago :-)
posted by johngumbo at 10:20 PM on August 10, 2006


First, Madison is NE of Cedar Rapids not NW. Second, I don't know what the laws are in state parks in Iowa, but in most places I know, taking fossils from state land is a big no-no. It's better to stick with private land where you can get owner permission.

Sorry about the E-W thing...I have directional dyslexia, but it only seems to happen when I'm talking about those two directions. I was born and raised in CR, and I now live in Madison, so I know of where I speak, at least.

When I'm talking about taking fossils from Palisades, I'm talking about picking rocks up off the ground...they're that plentiful. There are still ancient leaf impressions that I have in my basement from when I was a kid on field trips where the park rangers encouraged us to take a souvenir of anything interesting we found laying about. The coolest ones were where you found complete impressions of Trilobites.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:34 AM on August 11, 2006


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