Fossil Butte |

Southwest Wyoming

Hiking Fossil Butte - Southwest Wyoming Roadside Attraction Fossil Butte - Southwest Wyoming Hiking Fossil Butte
Southwest Wyoming

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview


TICKS & TODOS: 0 Todo Lists / 0 Ticks
RATING: Easy Hike/Roadside
LENGTH: 1+ hours
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
MAPS: NUGGET, WY; FOSSIL, WY
WATER: Available at the visitor center.
SEASON: Any, though summers can be hot.
Sat Hi:33 Lo:22 Sun Hi:36 Lo:8 Mon Hi:40 Lo:9 Tue Hi:41 Lo:10 Wed Hi:40 Lo:11
View Full Weather Details

Though you would not suspect it today, the high desert of southwestern Wyoming was a sub-tropical ecosystem 33-56 million years ago. During this time, a large lake covered the area near Kemmerer Wyoming and formed what is now referred to as Fossil Lake. The lake and environment created a world-class bed of fossils that was first discovered in the late 1800's.

Since the late 1800's, the area has been mined for fossils by various locals. It is home to many fossilized species of fish, reptiles, mammals, and a few different species of birds and plants. The monument is a destination that fossil hunters from around the world come to visit.

For the casual tourist, the visitor center has an incredible selection of fossils found on site (or nearby) on display. They also, during the summer season, conduct tours of active dig sites. It is a great family-friendly destination.

Note: There is no camping allowed in the monument. If you have a capable vehicle, you can take the scenic drive, a dirt road that climbs steeply to the butte above. One on top, it is a short distance to the well-signed boundary of the monument. Once out of the monument there are several excellent primitive camping sites.

Getting There

From Kemmerer, WY, head west on US-30. About 7 miles west of Kemmerer Fossil Butte is signed on the right. Follow the side road. The Quarry trail is on the right about 0.8 miles from US-30. The visitor center is about 3.5 miles from US-30.


Route

The visitor center is the recommended first stop for getting more information and seeing the impressive displays. Aside from the visitor center, there are two main trails in the park:

The Nature Trail (1.5 miles / 1-2 hours)
This short loop ascends from the parking area through the forest to the active dig site used on tours. If you aren't on a ranger-led tour, you are out of luck and can't visit the dig site, but can still make the loop.

There are many benches along the trail that make great break spots to take in the views.

Quarry Trail (3 miles / 2 hours)
This was my favorite trail that we did while visiting. You can visit the old quarry, or make a loop to visit a historic cabin along the way. My strong recommendation is to make the loop. The cabin is fascinating and fun to see, while the views along the way of the butte above are stark and dramatic.


Maps

Printable Maps:
Visitor Center

12T 518998mE 4631660mN

N41° 50' 12" W110° 46' 16"

Trailhead - Nature Trail

12T 518211mE 4634985mN

N41° 51' 60" W110° 46' 50"

Trailhead - Quarry Trail

12T 522003mE 4630183mN

N41° 49' 24" W110° 44' 06"

Jct 1

12T 522127mE 4630427mN

N41° 49' 31" W110° 44' 01"

Cabin

12T 521982mE 4631056mN

N41° 49' 52" W110° 44' 07"

Jct 2

12T 521436mE 4631274mN

N41° 49' 59" W110° 44' 31"

Quarry

12T 521521mE 4631436mN

N41° 50' 04" W110° 44' 27"

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