Collecting Fossils Near Ladonia

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When I say “fossil” I ain’t talking about fancy watches and old folks. I mean real, authentic dinosaur fossils.

For several years now my husband, our kids, and I have been traveling to the North Sulphur River near Ladonia, Texas to collect fossils. I think it’s one of those childhood dreams of mine to be a paleontologist that never came to fruition that I am trying to fulfill. I mean, what kid doesn’t get interested in dinosaurs and fossils even if only for a moment when they’re little? My boys are no different and you bet neither am I.

She Is Dallas Info: Fossil Park at North Sulphur River can be found 1 1/2 hours northeast of the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex off Highway 34 just north of the main town of Ladonia, Texas. Check weather conditions ahead of time and wear appropriate clothing. There are no main grocery stores, convenience stores or restaurants nearby so pack your own food in and out. It’s a long walk back to your car so put your food, water, and anything else you need in a backpack and take it with you. There are tons of other fossils that I didn’t post here so do some googling to see what other types and variety you can find. Fossil Forum is a great place to get started if you need help identifying something you found. This Flickr set by DanaAAllen also has some good finds and fossils you’re likely to find on a trip to the North Sulphur River.

Getting down into the North Sulphur River can be tricky at times. The main Highway 34 bridge is built up a little and has “steps” to get down to the river to make it easier for kids, but honest to goodness I swear the steps were made for giants. Serious engineering problem in my opinion. It is usually less muddy in this area and it dries out quicker after a rain so you’ll usually find someone collecting at this spot. It’s also one of the most collected and picked through areas because it is the main entrance to the fossil park, but I swear I always find something good that others didn’t notice. Like this mosasaur vertebrae:

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And this collapsed shark or fish vertebrae:

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(or at least I think that’s what it is)

In order to have a successful fossil collecting experience you have to be willing to get dirty in the North Sulphur River. By dirty I mean muddy. And probably wet too.

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Now we’re used to the muddy, sometimes smelly, wet conditions at this site, but if you’re some city slicker that can’t stand to let your kid pick up things like dead crawdaddies, frogs, bugs, ice:

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and other “nasty” things, then you should probably stay at home.

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(Small blue thing further upstream…besides my kid…is a discarded helmet. You will find trash. Your kids will find trash.)

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The one thing you’ll notice in almost all these images is that my boys are wearing rubber boots that are duct-taped to their pants. This is absolutely necessary after any recent rain. Unless you don’t mind your kids throwing away their muddy clothes after you’re done for the day. Because honey, one wrong step and this will happen:

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This is day one on the river.

Yes, he is wearing two pairs of pants because it was chilly that day.

Yes, I’m not helping him because I already did that once that day and got stuck myself.

Thank goodness Daddy was around to help him out:

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But if you’re patient you’ll find lots of goodies–like shark teeth:

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Fish teeth and mosasaur teeth:

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Can you find the mosasaur tooth in the above image? If not, you probably shouldn’t go fossil collecting.

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Holly About Holly

Kids Activities Blog is Holly's blogging home.

She is the mom of three boys ages 7, 10 and 12 who partially homeschools. She believes that you shouldn't have to buy stuff to have fun when there is a kitchen junk drawer full of possibilities.

She can also be found at Business 2 Blogger, on Twitter as @QuirkyMommaSite or @Texasholly, but her favorite place to hang out is on Google +.