Day Trips: Ladonia Fossil Park

North Texas riverbed a treasure chest of ancient bones


Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Ladonia Fossil Park in North Texas gives up its treasures reluctantly, but also in abundance if you know what to look for. After high-water events, the North Sulphur River churns up a new crop of fossilized bones, petrified wood, and shark teeth.

Free access to the river leads from a small parking lot at the northwest corner of the bridge and down a stair-stepped drainage channel. On a beautiful fall day, about a half-dozen people of all ages were digging in the rocky riverbed divided by shallow streams of water.


Straightened for flood control, the river channel is very wide with steep 30-foot banks. The Dallas Paleontological Society discovered the treasure trove years ago. After the waters recede from major flooding, the big dogs come looking for the large bones, ammonites, and petrified plants.

According to the DPS website (www.dallaspaleo.org), the North Sulphur River is such a good place to find fossils because during the Cretaceous period (around 100 million years ago), the area was covered by a shallow sea. The remains of the abundant and diverse sea life were later entombed in shale, which is ideal for preservation.


Everyone hunting for fossils on that fine fall day came away with something. The most common discovery was ancient oyster shells. A few shark teeth were found in the gravel beds. One woman said she picks rocks that she likes whether they're fossils or not.

Ladonia Fossil Park is two miles north of Ladonia on Texas Highway 34, about 30 miles north of Greenville and 75 miles northeast of Dallas. The riverbed is open to rock hounds during daylight hours. For more information, call 903/456-2687 or go to www.cocladonia.org/ladonia-fossil-park.


1,427th in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Keywords: Ladonia Fossil Park, North Sulphur River, Dallas Paleontological Society, fossils

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