Fossil Collecting Trips

2019 PRI Fossil Collecting Trips

Join us for a trip through time with one of our exciting Fossil Collecting Trips!

Explore the ancient seas of central New York with the help of our expert staff. Search for trilobites, brachiopods, and a myriad of other ocean creatures up to nearly 400 million years old!

PRI provides the necessary tools of the trade, including rock hammers and a fossil identification guide. However, you will want to bring something to store all of the fossils that you find. Trip participants meet at each location, which varies from a 45-minute to 2.5-hour drive from Ithaca.

All the sites are fairly accessible with parking. However, most sites do not have convenient restroom facilities. Make sure you have sun protection and sensible footwear. Dress for sitting on rocks, near scratchy bushes, and getting dirty!

2019 Dates:

  • June 15: Tully, NY
  • July 6: Hamilton, NY
  • August 24: Cascade, NY

Collecting at each site begins at 11 am and ends at 2 pm.

Participants meet at the site. Information about each trip, including directions, will be emailed to participants during the week before the trip. For more information about the trips, please contact Rob Ross at 607-273-6623 x118 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cost:

Members:

  • Adults $12
  • Students/Seniors $10
  • Youth (ages 4 - 17) $6

Non-Members:

  • Adults $20
  • Students/Seniors $15
  • Youth (ages 4 - 17) $10

Field trips are free to YNAP members and their families. If you are a YNAP member and would like to register, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register. If you are unable to attend due to difficult circumstances and are not already a YNAP member, consider becoming one. Visit www.priweb.org/YNAP to learn more.

We'e sorry, but registration for Trips 1 & 2 is now closed.

NOTE: Please register separately for PRI members and non-members.

About the sites:

Tully, NY outcrop (June 15th): This site is a shale slope with some thin interbedded limestone layers. Both the shale and limestone has fossils, but different kinds: the shale tends to have brachiopods and bivalves and other fossils typical of Central New York shale, and the limestone has crinoid stems, bryozoans, and other “reefy” kinds of organisms. The rocks are part of the Moscow formation, which formed in the middle Devonian period. Trilobites are present, but not particularly abundant. The limestone is relatively resistant to erosion, and good-sized pieces of rock with fossils are often just sitting at the surface. The surface of the shale, however, is weathered into tiny pieces, and serious collectors often prefer to dig into fresh shale outcrop with rock hammers and chisels.

Hamilton, NY (July 6th): This remote site is a small quarry used by local farmers and visited courtesy of the relationship between Colgate University's geology department and the landowner. Like the site in Tully, this site exposes the Moscow formation, but was in a different part of the ancient sea that covered the area and has slightly coarser sediments. The site has diverse and abundant fossils typical of the Hamilton Group (brachiopods, bivalves, trilobites, straight cephalopods, and others). It is notable for its Dipleura (large trilobites) -- not abundant, but a few people will probably find good-sized pieces.

Cascade, NY (near Moravia) (August 24th): This site is a road cut with a decent sized should between the road (a two-lane highway) and the outcrops. It has abundant fossils in siltstone, and there are typically fossil-bearing rocks weathered loose along the ground. There is also plenty of outcrop to dig into. The Cascade site has abundant bivalves and brachiopods, but also a range of other types of fossils. It is not the best site for trilobites, though they do occur. This is part of the Ludlowville formation in the Hamilton Group, which is the formation under (and thus a tad older than) the Moscow formation. This site is okay for most children, but of course they should be supervised and kept away from the road. There’s a little more potential shade at this site than the other two sites, but on the other hand there’s more grass and brush along the outcrops.