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Mineral Wells Fossil Park
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This former Texas landfill is flush with 300 million-year-old fossils, all fit for the taking.

At first, Mineral Wells Fossil Park seems to be only a large pit of rocks. Dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find the park contains a fossil formation from an ancient seabed. Each handful of gravel is full of fossils more than 300 million years old.

A myriad of ancient fossils from the Pennsylvanian Period awaits those willing to get their hands a bit dirty. You can expect to find paleontological treasures from creatures like corals, urchins, clams, oysters, trilobites, sharks, and miscellaneous plants. The most common fossil species is crinoids (sea lilies), also often called “Indian beads” or “Indian buttons” in reference to their button or bead-like shape.

Roughly eight acres, the park was formerly part of a gravel pit at the old landfill. Eventually, wind and rain unearthed its feature fossil formation. Now, it’s one of the few parks in the nation where you can remove artifacts from the site and take fossils home with you.

The park is a haven for paleontologists and fossil collectors. It’s open to everyone and admission is free.

Know Before You Go

Large equipment is not allowed in the park, though small gardening tools are permitted and are recommended. Also be sure to bring a bag for the fossils, sunscreen, and plenty of water! The best time for fossil hunting is following storms or rain. Mineral Wells Fossil Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sundown.

Content originally created for Atlas Obscura.

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