Member Guide

Penn Dixie’s #1 Member Benefit

Since 1995, Penn Dixie members have enjoyed unlimited access to the park for fossil hunting, trail walking, and nature watching. This access extends from dawn to dusk and applies to every day of the year. For many reasons, very few organizations offer this type of access to their members. We can continue to offer this benefit with your help and cooperation. Following this guide will ensure a safer experience, maintain the quality of our facilities, and help you get the most out of your membership.

Official Policies

  1. Penn Dixie is open to members 365 days per year. You may enter after dawn. We ask that members exit before dusk.
  2. Please monitor the weather continuously during your visit. For your safety you are asked to vacate the park in the event of impending lightning, thunderstorms, or high winds. You may return when the danger has passed.
  3. Security cameras are present in multiple locations.  The park is patrolled by Penn Dixie staff, volunteers, and officers from the Hamburg Police Department.
  4. Members must carry their membership cards with them at all times. They may be asked to present this card by one of the above officials.
  5. With the exception of PLUS memberships, guests of members are not allowed. PLUS members are responsible for the behaviors of their guests. Members and their guests under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  6. Parking is available on the grassy areas outside of our gate. You may also park in the gravel area that splits off from the driveway and is abutted by concrete blocks.
  7. Please do not park in front of our gate or in the driveway itself. We recommend locking your vehicle and taking valuable items with you.
  8. The small gate to the right of the main gate is reserved for member access. Contact Executive Director Dr. Phil Stokes (phil@penndixie.org) for the gate code.
  9. We strive to minimize potential hazards to our guests but fossil collecting is inherently physically challenging. Please observe our rules and safety signs. When you enter the park, you do so at your own risk.
  10. Penn Dixie has uneven topography and many tripping hazards. Running, skipping, or jogging inevitably results in injury. As a result, running, skipping and jogging are not permitted at any time. This is our most important safety rule.
  11. Stone throwing is also prohibited. Please remind your young family members who will constantly face this temptation.
  12. Members are discouraged from climbing on piles of rocks which are slippery, unstable, or otherwise hazardous. Rocks and sediment are incredibly slippery when wet. Young members should be especially careful to not run on piles of rocks, or to accidentally dislodge a rock which could fall and injure someone below.
  13. Drones, model rockets, remote controlled cars/airplanes, and kites are only allowed with prior staff permission or as part of an official program.
  14. Clothing should be appropriate for outdoor activities. We recommend dressing in layers that can be removed as needed. Shade hats, sunscreen, and long sleeves are essential for protection from the sun.
  15. Footwear is required at all times. We strongly recommend waterproof boots or sneakers; open toed shoes, sandals, and flip flops will not provide the protection and support needed to ensure your safety.
  16. Pets are not allowed at Penn Dixie. Service animals are the exception and must remain on a leash at all times. Please carry a bag to clean up after your service animal.
  17. We do not allow roller blades/skates, ATVs, or motorbikes. Bicycles/scooters are not allowed on trails. Motor vehicles and bicycles/scooters must remain in designated parking areas.
  18. Smoking and vaping are not allowed in the park or parking lot. If you need to smoke or vape, please do so outside the gate.
  19. We do not allow hunting, archery, or trapping.
  20. Fires of any type are not permitted.
  21. Weapons of any type are not permitted.
  22. Drugs and alcohol are not allowed at Penn Dixie.
  23. Since we do not have a trash service, all waste must be carried off site.
  24. Portable toilets and hand sanitizer dispensers are only available during our public season. In the offseason, please plan ahead for your sanitary needs off site.
  25. Visitors are welcome to bring their own food and drinks and utilize our picnic tables on a first come, first served basis. Cooking is not allowed without prior permission of the staff. Since prearranged groups often utilize our educational pavilion, your use of this space is not guaranteed.
  26. If you have a medical issue, dial 911. You are calling from the Town of Hamburg. Penn Dixie is located at 4050 North Street in Hamburg. If possible, you will need to make your way to the gate to meet the ambulance. If you cannot make it, you must give the dispatcher the gate code.
  27. If you are not currently a member, please purchase or renew your membership at least one week in advance of your planned visit. Otherwise, we cannot guarantee that you will receive your membership card in time to visit on your chosen date.
  28. Members must contact Executive Director Dr. Phil Stokes (phil@penndixie.org) to receive the gate code. You will be asked to review and acknowledge these rules.

Fossil Tips

  1. New to Penn Dixie? We suggest scheduling your first visit to the park when we are open to the public. Our educators will be here to show you around the park and answer questions.
  2. The primary collection area is the mounds to the north of the brown pavilion.
  3. As a member, you may collect as many fossils and rocks as you wish. Please do not disturb any plants or animals, living or dead. Wildlife is an important part of our park.
  4. Bring a bag or bucket to hold your collected fossils. Wheelbarrows, carts, and wagons are allowed. Please keep them on the trail wherever possible to avoid disturbing plants and wildlife such as nesting birds.
  5. You may bring any tools desired for fossil collection. A rock hammer with a steel handle or a small sledge hammer with a chisel are useful for breaking rock. We do not recommend screwdrivers, woodworking chisels, awls, or carpentry hammers. These items tend to break during use, causing injury. Knee pads and waterproof boots are popular accessories among our longtime members.
  6. Surface collecting can yield many fossils and can be done without tools. This method is great for even our youngest guests. A garden trowel is all that is needed.
  7. To prevent eye injury, safety glasses are strongly recommended when breaking rocks. Children should never break rocks without eye protection and close adult supervision.
  8. Rock saws are allowed only with prior permission from Penn Dixie staff.
  9. The official Penn Dixie Field Guide (https://penndixie.org/official-field-guide/) is a great resource on the history of Penn Dixie and its fossils.

Failure to abide by these rules can result in suspension of membership, police citation, or arrest.