It should be noted that Nevada is the most remote state in the country. There is a lot of big, open land out there.
This is good for the fossil hunter because there are an abundance of fossils left to find. It is still worth noting that you may very well be the only person around for miles.
Never venture into the Nevada desert without a capable vehicle, plenty of water, dehydrated food, and other basic staples to survive if necessary. You can’t always depend on cell phones out here.
The areas mentioned below are known locations with fossils and petrified wood, but these are general locations. I would recommend that you pick up a few decent guide books like Rockhounding Nevada and Gem Trails of Nevada. They will contain more detail on the collecting sites including directions and other details.
The small town of Berlin is well-known for fossils, since the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is located there. It is rich with numerous kinds of plant and animal fossils.
Collecting in the park is strictly forbidden, but there are good areas outside of the park that you can collect. Good ammonites can be found in the vicinity.
2. Buffalo Canyon
This area is located in Central Nevada about 60 miles south of Austin. Leaf imprints and other plant fossils can be found in the exposed shale outcroppings.
3. Crittenden Spring
Some top quality ammonite specimens have been collected from this remote part of northeastern Nevada. Located north of Montello in Long Valley Canyon.
This spot isn’t a secret by any stretch, but you can still find some good pieces here. You’ll find the best pieces if you bring along the rock hammer and do some digging.
4. Daisy Creek
Nice pieces of petrified wood can be found along Daisy Creek a few miles south of Battle Mountain. This area has been hit hard over the years, but there are still some good pieces to be found if you look hard.
5. Dunlap Canyon
A variety of long-extinct invertebrate fossils can be dug at Dunlap Canyon in central Nevada. The closest town in Mina, and the collecting site is about 10 miles east of town. This area is remote so come prepared.
There is some pretty good fossil hunting around the town of Fallon. One such site is west of town near Sheckler Reservoir. Various extinct plant species can be found in the area.
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7. Goose Creek
Some nice samples of bogwood and petrified wood can be found near the Idaho border just south of Jackpot. Goose Creek and Rock Springs Creek are both good locations to poke around and see what you can find.
The desert all around Goldfield is a good area to search for petrified wood (as well as gold of course). Explore the lower elevation areas that show signs of erosion to locate the better pieces.
9. Illidah Reservoir
There are several good fossil areas north of Illidah Reservoir in the central part of the state. Fossils come in a wide variety of small invertebrates from a time when this once once a large inland sea.
Look for exposed limestone cliffs. Fossils are locked within the layers and weather out naturally.
This is one of my favorite parts of Nevada. There’s even a lost mine somewhere in this area. For fossil hunters, there are some good places to look for various plant fossils. South of Jarbidge is the little town of Charleston and the road cuts along Copper Basin Road are worth taking a look at.
Also Read: Rockhounding Nevada – Where to Find Opals and Turquoise
This remote little town in northern Nevada is one of the best rockhounding sites in the West. There are a nice variety of different minerals here, one of which is top quality petrified wood.
Good collecting can be found along Disaster Peak road west of town. Lots of rockhounds have hunted here over the decades but they still are finding good stuff even now, a testament to being a good site. Look for old pits in both Nevada and Oregon along the state line.
There are lots of fossil hunting sites around Montello. One good one is west of town at Immigrant Canyon. Many types are found here, but primarily you will find interesting brachiopod specimens.
An extensive variety of fossil species are found east of Fallon and the Clan Alpine Mountains just outside of Middlegate. Occasionally pieces of vertebrate fossils have come from this regions as well.
14. Trilobite Hill
This is one of the best sites in the whole state to hunt for fossils due to the abundance of trilobites that once lived here. These little critters lived in Nevada over 500 million years ago!
There are many areas to find them, but the best sites are in the Gold Mountains and Mount Dunfee near the tiny town of Gold Point.
This isolated part of Nevada was once a thriving mining town. Rich silver ores were discovered here and there is still some mining activity going on.
Aside from the silver, there is also petrified wood in the desert. Hiking at the base of foothills is a good place to find petrified wood samples, as well as nice jasper and an occasional agate.
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