Social Distance Dig

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.

In The Future: We hope we can remain open to the public. Please remind your friends and family to help reduce the spread in our community by following health guidelines.

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. Please do not hurry in to see us — we’ll be here in the fall and next year, too!
  • 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, but we cannot allow group gatherings, parties, picnics, or meetings with multiple families. 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.

Program Notes

Due to the above challenges we regrettably cancel these scheduled programs:

  • Fossil Hunting for Beginners (June 20; July 11; August 15)
  • Town of Hamburg Weekend (June 27 & 28)
  • Fossil Hunters Workshop (August 8)
  • Homeschool Days (June 16; September 22; October 5)
  • Rock-It (July 25)
  • Dig with the Experts (August 29 & 30)
  • Stargazing in Hamburg (June 27; July 13 @ Lake Shore Public Library; July 25; August 22; September 26; October 17)
  • Erie County Earth Science Day (October 3)

These programs are still planned, with some changes expected:

  • Fossil Fridays (Fridays in July & August)
  • Grandparents Day (September 13)
  • Scouting Rocks (September 19)

Penn Dixie has also added a number of virtual programs and presentations:

  • Virtual Astronomy Nights (various dates)
  • History of the Niagara Gorge by Catherine Konieczny (May 27)
  • Recent Discoveries in the Science of Paleontology by Dan Krisher (June 3)

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 6-13-20

Thank YOU!

Reopening is a team effort. We are grateful to the Arts Services Initiative of WNY for a $5,000 grant for protective equipment and cleaning products. The Town of Hamburg donated 1,000 disposable masks. Lois Schultz, mom of Director of Education Dr. Holly Schreiber, sewed 30 reusable masks for our employees in Penn Dixie colors. We also received a loan under the CARES Act to retain staffing during the shutdown. Finally, we acknowledge Erie County and the Town of Hamburg for their continued support.

To Our Supporters, Members, And Friends

To: Our Supporters, Members, And Friends

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health crisis and the worst natural disaster of our time. Our downstate neighbors in New York City suffer greatly while the risk here in Erie County and elsewhere in the country grows every day. Uncertainty is the new norm, and the news is shocking and depressing. For me it is incredibly painful to witness friends and loved ones succumb while medical personnel and others on the frontlines bravely fight for our lives and future.

Geologists study natural disasters; these are generally local events such as earthquakes or floods. In my last gig, I taught college students about natural disasters, and I can easily say that I never imagined or prepared my students for a global event of this magnitude. But, there are lessons to be learned from the past and how we have responded to similar challenges.

Humanity is resilient – we wouldn’t have gotten this far, after all, without some special advantages that other species don’t have. This was the premise of my TEDx talk, ironically. Humans communicate better than any other animal, we’re adaptable, and we are capable of great acts of compassion and empathy. No matter what the disaster that befalls us, history teaches that if we stick together, we can overcome problems great and small.

All nonessential New York businesses were ordered to close as of March 22 and Penn Dixie is no exception. Our 25th anniversary season is delayed indefinitely. We’ve rescheduled some programs; others are cancelled but may return if we can fit them in. Regrettably, we’ve been forced to reduce our staffing as all field trips, tours, and community events are on hold. It’s an extremely difficult and frustrating time. If he were asked, noted pessimist and Simpsons character Comic Book Guy might call it the

worst anniversary ever

If you’re concerned about the success of Penn Dixie, you’re not alone. We are a small business and are struggling like many others. Fortunately, you – and thousands of science enthusiasts like you – have supported us in the past with program fees, admissions, memberships, and donations. We set aside some of these funds for a rainy day, and well – it’s pouring!

Thankfully, local government has stepped up to ensure that we can keep the lights on this spring. I am grateful to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Hamburg Town Supervisor Jim Shaw for making sure that Penn Dixie and the other cultural groups in Erie County can continue our missions despite the economic downturn. In addition, we thank Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw for personally delivering checks to these groups for expeditious relief!

If you’re able, there are many ways to help:

1) Post an online review of Penn Dixie. Online reviews factor heavily into how Penn Dixie’s website is ranked in searches, plus travelers find them extremely helpful when choosing a place to visit. Do you have a great experience to share with the world? Your words make a difference! Post a review on FacebookPost a review on Google

2) Plan to visit once we reopen. We don’t know when this will be, but I promise that the fossils are here and ready to be unearthed.

3) Send a letter or email to a local elected official to show how much you appreciate their support of places like Penn Dixie. This type of advocacy is inexpensive, efficient, and extremely effective. If you want to join our effort, please email me for details.

4) Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Many people read the news — whether online or in print — and are curious to see how other people feel about important current issues. Elected officials love to take the temperature of the community this way, too. Bonus: Newspapers are inundated with letters discussing politics. Unique and inspiring submissions covering other topics are more likely to get published.

5) Make Hamburg Natural History Society/Penn Dixie the beneficiary of your Amazon Smile donations. When you make a purchase, Amazon will make a small donation to our organization. This option does not cost you anything extra.

6) Purchase or renew a 12-month Penn Dixie membership. Memberships directly support our programming and operations, and we could not get by without our loyal and enthusiastic member base. We will be happy to give you and your family an exciting tour of Penn Dixie once we reopen. And in the interim, members are welcome to visit on their own. You can also purchase our Membership Gift Pack as a gift for family and friends.

Wegmans
A bathrobe replaces my standard work clothes.

7) Make a tax-deductible donation to support our mission of hands-on science education.

I’m a little more optimistic than Comic Book Guy! Penn Dixie will be back, and we’ll be here to help you unwind, get some fresh air, and break a few rocks. Please stay safe and healthy.

Dr. Phil Stokes, Executive Director

P.S. Our office is closed, so please email our exoskeleton crew if you need something (form at bottom of page).


Updated Booking Information

Parties wishing birthdays, private tours, and group tours are welcome to book dates after June 1. Obviously, we will make sure that health officials have declared public gatherings to be safe for your tour to proceed. Otherwise, we are happy to reschedule or refund your deposit. Since our office is closed, please contact using email or via the form on our Contact Us page.

Updated Member Policies

Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve is closed to the public, but per longstanding policy members may visit during daylight hours on any day of the week. Need some stress relief? The rocks are still here and are waiting for you to smash them with a hammer! Trilobites and other fossils look forward to being discovered, I believe, so you are really doing them a service in this difficult time.

When you are on site, please respect social distancing and keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other members. Generally, the 54-acre park only has one or two other members on site at a given time, so this shouldn’t be a problem. A face mask to protect others from airborne droplets is not a bad idea, either. If you are a Penn Dixie member and would like to visit, please email me for the full policy and access information.

Contact Us Via Email