Adventurers put Kemmerer on their bucket list

© 2017-Kemmerer Gazette

Digging for fossils a thrilling experience for both locals and tourists

KEMMERER—It was a picture perfect spring day in Wyoming when a group of 16 adventurers from Colorado gained the experience of a lifetime. Ancient Lake Fossils, Inc. successfully held its first guided private group tour on May 27 in the Green River formation near Fossil Butte National Monument.

It may be common for many Kemmerer area residents to be familiar with fossil fish and possibly most have actually dug for their own at some point. But for scores of people outside this small town, it is highly unusual and very exciting to be part of this extraordinary experience. It was just that which sparked the interest of Blake Sullivan, Friends of Dinosaur Ridge Volunteer/Membership Coordinator in Colorado, to coordinate a field trip.   

The Friends of Dinosaur Ridge is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 for the purpose of preserving the fossils on Dinosaur Ridge located near Morrison, Colorado. 

Long-time fossil hunter and owner of Ancient Lake Fossils, Inc., Adam Lindgren had already been considering the idea of group fossil tours. When he and Sullivan connected, the idea became reality. Lindgren, with help from employee Dain Hanson, organized a structured three-day digging event. The trip included transportation from Colorado to Kemmerer and back, accommodations in Kemmerer, and two days of digging in the active split fish quarry located in the Green River Formation.

“When I saw the trip posted on the website,” said Karen Jones of Denver, Colo., “I immediately leapt on it!”

Jones signed up for the trip with her sister, Kay Wise of Denver, Colo. Both women have longed for a chance to dig for their own fossils. “It was on my bucket list,” said Jones who was knocking three other items off her “bucket list” this summer.

When the 16-member group arrived in Kemmerer Friday evening, they began their adventure at the Fossil Butte National Monument with an informative presentation by guest speaker Arvid Aase. 

“He was incredible,” said Colorado resident Peg O’Keefe. “Mr. Aase was so knowledgeable. He gave us a powerful presentation on the foundation of this area and what to look for today.”

The group enjoyed a full day of chipping and cutting stone sections Saturday at the quarry with the heat of the sun on their backs. The Gazette was fortunate to join the tour for a couple of hours.

After a thrilling ATV ride into the private section of the quarry, everyone excitedly compared and reviewed their findings. Couples teamed up carrying heavy sections of slab, eager to break them open and find prized fossil fish.

After returning to town that evening, the group was entertained by another educating presentation by Lindgren, Hanson and Sullivan, who discussed the commercial side of paleontology.

The clients continued digging for fossils until 2 p.m. on Sunday before heading back to Colorado.

Every single participant in the group went home with fossil souvenirs.

“The dig went very well,” Lindgren said. “Everyone was thrilled with the experience, and everybody went home with boxes of specimens. One gal did find a partial paddlefish (Crossopholis magnicaudatus) which is one of the rare fish in Fossil Lake.”

Ancient Lake Fossils, Inc., will likely make this dig an annual event, according to Lindgren. Follow the company on Facebook for inquiries and details on potential digging opportunities in the future. Kemmerer is just waiting for adventurers, so you may just want to add this remote little town to your bucket list.

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Visit the Gazette homepage for a gallery of more photos from this Fossil Fish dig.