33 Great Spots To Find Fossils In New Jersey In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

33 Great Spots To Find Fossils In New Jersey In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

Fossils are like nature’s own time machine. When you find one, it’s like holding a piece of history in your hands. They show us what the world was like way back then, from giant dinosaurs to tiny ancient insects. It’s like a storybook of our planet’s past!

A great place to start fossil hunting is in New Jersey. Our state has many parks, creeks, and areas where you can hunt for these natural wonders.

But, just like hunting for hidden treasure, finding fossils in New Jersey isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s important to have a proper guide to the right places.

We went all over our state to discover the great spots where you can find New Jersey fossils, both rare and common ones. With this guide and some luck, you’ll be holding a piece of ancient history in no time!

The Fossils Of New Jersey You Can Find

Our state is practically a fossil hunter’s dreamland! There are a bunch of awesome spots for finding fossils in New Jersey. From ancient sea creatures to plant impressions, our ground has many secrets waiting to be uncovered.

While there are plenty of great rockhounding spots in New Jersey, you can’t find fossils in all of them. Instead, there are pretty specific areas where they hide. But before we get into that, let’s discuss first the different common and rare New Jersey fossils.

How We Found The Best Places For Fossils in New Jersey
Our team is constantly on the lookout for new fossil sites and are very plugged into the fossil hunting community. There are new locations that are constantly being found and we love to help more hunters find success. Here are the main factors we used when determining the recommendations we set out :

  • The extensive local experience and understanding of our team
  • Input from multiple local fossil hunters and fossil groups
  • The accessibility of the various locations
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Private and public locations
  • A desire to include locations for both experienced fossil lovers and those who are just starting out

Using these weights we think we’ve put together the best list out there for those who love finding great new fossils for our collections!

Common New Jersey Fossils

Pieces of raw shark teeth fossils
Shark teeth photo provided by and available for purchase at SHRKco

When you head up here, below are some of the most common fossils of New Jersey that you can come across with:

  • Shark teeth and cartilage
  • Belemnites
  • Mollusks
  • Coprolites
  • Trilobites
  • Mosasaur teeth

New Jersey State Fossil – Hadrosaurus foulkii

Reconstructed skeleton of the Hadrosaurus foulkii at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Hadrosaurus foulkii is a type of hadrosaur, often called the “duck-billed” dinosaur because of its flat, wide mouth that looked a bit like a duck’s bill. They were plant-eaters that were about 25 feet long, which is almost as long as a school bus!

What makes the Hadrosaurus foulkii super special is that it’s the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton ever found! Before this, people only had small bits and pieces of dinosaur fossils. So, finding a nearly whole skeleton was a huge deal.

Rare New Jersey Fossils

A orangey brown fossil crocodile scute
Crocodile fossil photo provided by Fossilera – @fossilera

Now, here’s the exciting part: the valuable rare New Jersey fossils. It’s important to get to know these rare New Jersey fossils so that you can research what they look like and how you can identify them in case you encounter them in your hunt:

  • Hadrosaur dinosaur teeth
  • Dryptosaurus dinosaur bone
  • Stromatolite
  • Pleisiosaurs

The Best Places To Find Fossils In New Jersey

The fossils of New Jersey may be hard to find, but they’re not impossible to uncover. Below are our top recommended places to search through and explore for both common and rare New Jersey fossils:

Always Confirm Access and Collection Rules!

Before heading out to any of the locations on our list you need to confirm access requirements and collection rules for both public and private locations directly with the location. We haven’t personally verified every location and the access requirements and collection rules often change without notice.

Many of the locations we mention will not allow collecting but are still great places for those who love to find beautiful rocks and minerals in the wild without keeping them. We also can’t guarantee you will find anything in these locations since they are constantly changing. 

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding. If you want even more current options it’s always a good idea to contact local rock and mineral clubs and groups

Big Brook Preserve

Big Brook Preserve frequented by people of all ages looking to find fossils

Big Brook Preserve is a dream come true for anyone who loves hunting for ancient treasures. Located between the towns of Colts Neck and Marlboro, this spot is like a window to the past.

It’s a lush, green area with flowing waters that have been shaping the landscape for ages. Its stream has been busy, slowly washing away layers of earth to reveal hidden fossils beneath.

Imagine standing by the water with trees around you, feeling the thrill of knowing that, just below your feet, are secrets from millions of years ago. The sediments in Big Brook Preserve are from the Late Cretaceous period, which is around 65-72 million years ago!

And the best part? It’s not hard to get to at all. Just a short drive from many parts of New Jersey, it’s a perfect spot for a day trip. Once you arrive, there are trails that make it easy to navigate and get to the best fossil-hunting spots.

Where and what fossils to find in Big Brook Preserves

You can find Cretaceous fossils in Big Brook Preserves, such as dinosaur bones, including hadrosaur teeth and bone fragments. You can also find shark cartilage and teeth, reptile teeth like mosasaur, skates or rays, bony fish, and invertebrate fossils here.

Rock pick being used

The tools every fossil hunter will need

When you're out looking for fossils having the right tools for the job is really going to make or break your success. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.

We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced fossil hunters which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools and kit guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.

Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing. One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.

At a minimum you should have:

1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard

2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set

3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well

4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill

5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable

6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to

7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect

The fossil-finding books that we use most

There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America 

Northeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Northeastern Quadrant 

We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.

Hamburg

Colorful view of Hamburg in fall

Nestled in the picturesque rolling hills of our state’s northern region, Hamburg is surrounded by nature’s beauty. But what makes this town stand out isn’t just its scenic views— it’s what’s hiding beneath.

While the area offers several geological wonders, there’s one in particular that deserves a special mention: stromatolite fossils! Around Hamburg, these fossils can be found in specific rock layers.

Reaching this fossil wonderland is easy. Hamburg is conveniently nestled in Sussex County, which is easily reachable by car from many parts of New Jersey and its neighboring states.

Where and what fossils to find in Hamburg

You can find one of the rare New Jersey fossils in Hamburg which is stromatolite, formed by cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae that lived in shallow waters. You can also find trilobites on the dolomite exposures of this place.

Haddonfield

Serene view of the Cooper River showing its surrounding area

Haddonfield is a town with a story that goes way, way back— we’re talking millions of years! Situated in Camden County, it’s famous not just for its historical buildings and charming streets, but also for a big prehistoric discovery.

Years ago, in 1858, a local guy named William Parker Foulke made a groundbreaking discovery: the nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur, which we now call Hadrosaurus foulkii. This was America’s first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton find, and it put Haddonfield on the map for fossil enthusiasts around the world!

The town has celebrated this incredible find with a special spot called Hadrosaurus Park. Here, visitors can see where the dino bones were discovered and even spot a big statue commemorating this ancient creature.

Getting to Haddonfield is pretty straightforward. It’s a short drive from Philadelphia and well-connected by roads.

Where and what fossils to find in Haddonfield

When you visit here, you can find Cretaceous fossils like turtle and dinosaur bones specifically in the Cooper River tributary and a small gully near Maple and Grove Streets.

Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park

A look at the building of the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park surrounded with visitors of all ages

Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park is like a time-traveling hotspot in the heart of our state. This place, located in Mantua Township, is a goldmine for anyone eager to discover fossils.

What’s really cool is that this isn’t just any old patch of land: it’s a site where prehistoric sea creatures were once buried by a dramatic event, possibly a big flood or even an asteroid impact!

Imagine being able to dig into the ground and find fossils of creatures that lived millions of years ago. That’s exactly what you can do here.

Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park is situated close to Rowan University. It’s just a short drive away from many parts of New Jersey. Roads leading to it are well-marked, so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.

Where and what fossils to find in Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park

You can find remains of bus-length mosasaurs, sea turtles, marine crocodiles, shark teeth, bony fish, marine snails, brachiopods, and many others if you explore this park located in a former marl quarry.

Lake Carnegie

Side view of Lake Carnegie showing the Stonebridge

Lake Carnegie is a freshwater lake nestled between Princeton and Kingston. It sparkles with both scenic beauty and fascinating history.

While this lake might not be the first spot that comes to mind for fossil hunting, its surrounding area has sediment and rock layers that are of great interest. These layers can offer glimpses into ancient ecosystems, and with a bit of luck and keen eyes, you might discover fossils here.

The nearby lands have revealed various plant fossils and even traces of ancient marine life from periods when the region was submerged under ancient seas.

The trip to Lake Carnegie is quite straightforward. Located conveniently near the historical town of Princeton, it is easily accessible by road. You’ll even find clear signposts guiding you to this serene destination.

Where and what fossils to find in Lake Carnegie

You can explore the west side of Lake Carnegie to find Triassic fossils of reptile footprints.

Other Top Places To Find New Jersey Fossils By Region

Marine fossil of an 18” Guitar Ray
Marine fossil photo provided by Fossil Realm – @fossilrealm

As we said, our state is brimming with hotspots to find both rare and common New Jersey fossils. If you want more options, below are some more places where you can find these natural treasures:

Location Fossils
Near Polify Road in Hackensack Mastodon Teeth
Granton Quarry in Bergen County Bony fish
Greensands in Birmingham County Turtles and sharks fossils
Bed of Crosswicks Creek Turtles, crocodiles, and dinosaur fossils
Sand pit exposure in Burlington County Shark teeth, bones, coral, invertebrates
Alloway Pit close to Nike missile towers Shark teeth, coral, bones
Around Graham’s Brickyard near junction of NJ38 and NJ73 Shells
Tributary of Big Timber Creek Shark teeth
State beach of Cape May Point Paleozoic fossils
Quartzite boulders dredged from stream in Fairton Silicified Bivalves and Gastropods
Shiloh marl pit Turtle fossil
Park in Riker Hill Dinosaur tracks
Jackson Road at Mantua-Harrison Township lines Pleasiosaur bone fragments
Mullica Hill in Gloucester County Cretolamna
Exposures along valley of Oldman’s Creek Gatropods, Ammonites, Bivalves
Several area outcrops in Jutland especially at Clinton, Block and Supply Co Quarry Graptolites
Clay at Sayre and Fisher’s banks in Middlesex County Ambonicardia, Gnathodon
Manasquan Creek at the Georgia Road Brigde Typical fossil
Bluffs along Sandy Hook Bay Shark teeth
Atlantic Highlands in Monmouth County Ammonites
Willow Brook Shark teeth
Area excavations in Farmingdale Brachiopods, Mollusks, Gastropods
Triassic Sandstone above Hook Mountain Basalt Semionotus

Common Questions About Fossil Hunting In New Jersey

A white sea snake fossil
Sea snake fossil photo provided by Fossilera – @fossilera

In this section, we’re answering some of the most commonly-asked questions when it comes to fossil hunting in New Jersey. It would help to know about these before you start your exploration here:

Can you find megalodon teeth or shark teeth in New Jersey?

Absolutely! New Jersey is known among fossil enthusiasts as a prime location for finding shark teeth, including those from the massive prehistoric shark, the megalodon.

Our state’s ancient past involved a time when much of the region was underwater, covered by a warm, shallow sea. Megalodon, which is believed to have been the largest shark to ever live, left behind enormous teeth here.

Is it illegal to collect fossils in New Jersey?

It’s legal to collect fossils in designated collecting areas in New Jersey for as long as you abide by our state’s local collecting guidelines. There are different rules and regulations depending on the area you’ll explore. You also need to comply with safety protocols and environmental standards during your hunt.

You can check out the official website of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) for more information on this.

Can you find dinosaur bones in New Jersey?

Yes, definitely! New Jersey has a rich paleontological history, and our state has yielded a variety of fossils over the years, including dinosaur remains.

You can refer to our list of fossil-bearing places above to find the specific spots here where you can find dinosaur bones.

Our Favorite Places To Buy Fossils In New Jersey

A look at the busy showroom of Freedom Rocks

Exploring New Jersey for fossils takes time, energy, and effort, so if you think you lack in any of it, another good option for you to consider is to visit our local fossil shops here.

Below are some of the best ones that we have:

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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