Fossil Hunting for Beginners

New to fossil hunting?

Learn the tricks of the trade from Director of Education & Paleontologist, Dr. Holly Schreiber and/or Director of Science, Catherine Konieczny, M.S. Tour the site and learn all the best spots to hunt for fossils. During this two hour tour we’ll teach you how to find, dig, and preserve all the fossil treasures you find. Bring your own tools or borrow from our limited supply.

No experience necessary. All ages welcome — this program will run rain or shine, dress for the weather.

Dates and times:
Saturdays throughout the season starting at 10 am and lasting until 12 pm.

  • May 15th, 10 am-12  pm
  • June 5th, 10 am-12 pm
  • June 19th, 10 am-12 pm
  • July 3rd, 10 am-12 pm
  • July 17th, 10 am-12 pm
  • August 7th, 10 am-12 pm
  • August 21st, 10 am-12 pm
  • September 4th, 10 am-12 pm
  • October 9th, 10 am-12 pm

Included with admission or FREE for Penn Dixie members.
Select “Fossil Hunting for Beginners” tour-time option when registering online, for no additional charge.

Penn Dixie Claims World Record

Our attempt to set the first-ever GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the World’s Largest Fossil Dig on August 25, 2018 is certified. Thanks to 905 fossil diggers who participated, Penn Dixie is now the inaugural record holder for this category! The number one fossil park in the U.S. is now also the official home of the largest fossil dig in the world!! We thank the many community members, partners and business organizations, and media outlets that made this event possible.

“It’s incredible how well things came together for our record attempt. This new recognition cements Penn Dixie’s place in the geologic and paleontologic community, and we’re confident that we can provide an immersive educational and scientific experience, even in our new socially-distanced world.”

Keith Wesolowski, Penn Dixie Director and Chair of the Guinness World Record Event Committee.

The event provided a unique logistical challenge. In addition to being the largest fossil dig attempted by any group on the planet, this event was also the second largest program in Penn Dixie history. We had to recruit and organize dozens of unaffiliated volunteers (stewards) to monitor hundreds of participants. We had to prepare our park for the attempt by designating multiple collection zones and ensuring that all participants would be digging in a coordinated fashion for 30 minutes with proper collecting tools and attire.

Briefing nearly 1,000 participants prior to the attempt was another challenge that we achieved thanks to our enthusiastic volunteers and staff. Following the attempt, we needed to collect specimens from all participants and have them reviewed by unaffiliated professional paleontologists on site to make sure that the fossils were acceptable to the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ review committee.

Participants from the dig are eligible to purchase an official certificate from GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ to show that they were part of this record-setting day. Certificates may be purchased here for approximately $28 plus shipping by selecting the date (August 25, 2018) and location (USA) of the attempt. Official certificates may be purchased here.

Our attempt was made possible by Evans Bank, Phillips Lytle LLP, and RP Oak Hill Building Company Inc. Penn Dixie also thanks Erie County and the Town of Hamburg for ongoing support of our organization.

Member Appreciation

Penn Dixie members: Join us from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday April 24 to kick off the season! Our staff will be on-site to show you what we’ve been up during the offseason. Remember to bring your membership card and ID to show upon check in.

  • Unlimited fossil collecting for all members
  • 1 free (non-member) guest is allowed per cardholder as a thank you for your support
  • Free tool rentals while supplies last
  • Free take home container for your fossils
  • Individually wrapped snacks and light refreshments
  • Complimentary educational tours are available upon request
  • No reservations needed

RSVP Here

Additional non-member guests may pay our normal rate of admission upon arrival with credit card. Guests must be accompanied by a card holding member at all times.

If you would like to stay past 1 pm, please visit out Member Guide at https://penndixie.org/member-guide/

Opening Day Fossil Hunting

Saturday May 1, 2021, 9 am to 4:30 pm

This program has reached capacity and no additional tickets will be sold.

It’s a new season for Penn Dixie and there’s hope in the air! Join us for an Opening Day like no other as we celebrate Erie County’s Bicentennial with discounted fossil hunting for ALL Erie County residents.

For just $2 per person, you and your family will enjoy a short tour followed by unlimited fossil hunting at our 54-acre, outdoor science and nature park. You’ll bring home plenty of brachiopods with complimentary rental tools (bucket and trowel) as well as a biodegradable container that you can take with you.

The first tour departs at 9:15 am; subsequent tours are held every 15 minutes. The final tour is 2:45 pm and the park closes at 4:30 pm. Make reservations here. If you do not have a credit or debit card to complete your booking, please Contact Us. Penn Dixie members: there is no charge for admission — Contact Us for a code that you can use to register.

Reservations are required and walk-in guests will not be admitted. Due to capacity limits, we expect tickets to sell out in advance. Adult Erie County residents must present a valid form of ID or proof of residency on arrival. Non-residents are welcome at our usual rates. Mask wearing is required in some areas and while interacting with staff. All guests are expected to abide by our enhanced safety measures.

Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve is generously supported by Erie County and the Town of Hamburg.

This program has reached capacity and no additional tickets will be sold.

Social Distance Dig 2021

Advance booking required for all nonmembers and members visiting for the first time. Tickets are limited. Nonmembers and members enjoy unlimited time at the park during normal business hours.

The first tour is 9:15 am; subsequent tours held every 30 minutes. The final tour is 2:45 pm and the park closes at 4:30 pm. All first time visitors will receive a safety briefing followed by an introductory tour. Make reservations here. If you do not have a credit or debit card to complete your booking, please Contact Us.

New members: contact phil@penndixie.org for a code to eliminate ticketing fees. Members who have previously visited do not need to make a reservation but must register upon arrival.

Adults Seniors 62+ Military Students Children 3-17 Members
$12 $11 $11 $11 $9 FREE

Purchase General Admission


Important New Measures

Before Your Tour

  • If you or anyone in your party has flu-like symptoms, please do not come to Penn Dixie. We will gladly reschedule your tour or refund your purchase. Any guest who experiences flu-like symptoms will be required to leave Penn Dixie.
  • Do not visit Penn Dixie if you recently experienced flu-like symptoms or were diagnosed with COVID-19. If you are ill, research suggests the virus may remain for 2-3 weeks beyond relief from symptoms. 
  • Our operations will be disrupted if we learn that a visitor or employee has been infected. In this case, we may be forced to temporarily close on short notice. We will make our best effort to notify you as soon as possible if this is the case.

What To Wear

  • Face coverings are required for guests 3 & up in the parking lot, at check-on, near bathrooms, in our brown pavilion, and on our central paved trail. Face coverings are optional in the rear of the park and on nature trails.
  • If you do not have a face covering, a mask will be provided for you at no charge. We also have masks available for children.
  • Face coverings should fully cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, and be made of breathable material.

When You Arrive

  • Our parking lot is redesigned to increase the space between vehicles. When you arrive, please park in one of the designated spaces.
  • If you arrive early, you may use the portable toilets located near the entrance. Toilets are sanitized daily. Otherwise, please remain in your vehicle until 10 minutes prior to your tour’s start time. Please do not allow members of your party to wander the parking lot or mingle with other guests.
  • Send one person to check-in at our green pavilion while the rest of your party waits in your vehicle. Once checked in, you will be given directions to meet in a staging area. Do not gather our green welcome pavilion.
  • At this time, we can only accept cashless payment options on site.
  • You agree to share your name and contact information for contact tracing purposes. This information will be shared only with the Erie County Department of Health.

Mask map
Face coverings are required in the parking lot, at check-on, near bathrooms, in our brown pavilion, and on our central paved trail.

During Your Visit

  • Social distancing of 6 feet (2 meters) or more is required at all times. You are welcome to walk/hike/dig at a closer distance with family members and those living in your immediate household. Please do not linger in the parking lot.
  • We are fortunate that our park has plenty of space. Remind your younger family members and guests that they may explore the grounds but should not get close to guests who are not part of your group.
  • Though running water is not available on site, hand sanitizer stations will be available in several locations. Portable toilets will also be available.
  • Please respect any areas, picnic tables, and benches which are closed.
  • You are welcome to bring your own tools for fossil hunting. We also offer complimentary garden trowels and buckets as well as professional tools to rent. Tools are sanitized after each use. Please see our Frequent Questions page for more information about fossil collecting.

Please Be Advised

  • These new measures will be strictly enforced by Penn Dixie staff. If you — or those in your party — do not agree to follow all of our safety measures then we ask that you visit Penn Dixie during another season.
  • For your safety, all guests will be monitored by Penn Dixie staff and wireless security cameras. Regrettably, guests who do not comply with these measures will be asked to leave the park. Refunds will not be available.
  • Since we do not want to ask you to leave, please review all of the measures with all members of your party ahead of time.
  • An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the CDC, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By visiting Penn Dixie you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
  • Unfortunately, those at greatest risk from the virus include persons with chronic breathing issues such as COPD. If you have a chronic breathing issue or other medical condition which prevents you from wearing a mask, we encourage you to visit Penn Dixie at another time.
  • Guests with medically documented disabilities may Contact Us to request a reasonable accommodation. Please be prepared to provide 1) Evidence of disability within ADA guidelines; 2) A description of what modification is needed, detailing the safety measure(s) involved; and 3) How that modification relates to the disability. To provide our staff with an opportunity to review your documentation, this request must be made, in writing, at least 72 hours in advance of your planned visit to Penn Dixie.

Reopening Policies

Pursuant to state and local guidelines, we share our official healthy and safety policies for public access. Policies are subject to change

HNHS-Penn Dixie NYS Safe Business Reopening Plan

Penn Dixie Reopening Plan 2021

Thank YOU!