39 Guaranteed Spots To Find Fossils In Oklahoma In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

39 Guaranteed Spots To Find Fossils In Oklahoma In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

As remarkable remnants of prehistoric life, fossils provide us with a glimpse into the past. If you want to learn from these natural wonders, Oklahoma is a fantastic place to hunt for fossils. But locating them here doesn’t come without challenges.

One of the difficulties in finding fossils in Oklahoma is that many of them are hidden beneath layers of rock or buried deep underground. Without proper knowledge of the geological formations and the right tools, it can be a daunting task.

But don’t worry because we’re here to share some guaranteed spots to find Oklahoma fossils. Among these places are the Arbuckle Anticline, Lake Texoma, Canadian River, Fort Gibson Lake, and Black Bear Creek.

We’ll also briefly talk about the types of fossils you can expect to find here so you can do your research in advance and not take the risk of walking past one without recognizing it. Let’s begin!

The Fossils Of Oklahoma You Can Find

Oklahoma is rich in great rockhounding sites, but if you want to focus your hunting on fossils, there are specific areas only where you can find them.

Before we go into that, let’s talk about the different common and rare Oklahoma fossils that you might encounter here.

How We Found The Best Places For Fossils in Oklahoma
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 Oklahoma Fossils

Five pieces of brachiopod fossils
Brachiopods photo provided by and available for purchase at Fossil Bucket

Here are some of the most common Oklahoma fossils that you have a high chance of finding during your exploration:

  • Ammonites
  • Brachiopods
  • Bryozoan
  • Corals
  • Crinoids
  • Gastropods
  • Graptolites
  • Trilobites

Oklahoma State Fossil – Saurophaganax maximus

An almost complete fossil display of Saurophaganax maximus

Saurophaganax maximus is a dinosaur that roamed the land around 150 million years ago during the Late Jurassic period. It belonged to the theropod group, which included some of the most fearsome predators of their time.

Saurophaganax has an estimated length of up to 40 feet and a weight of around 4 tons. What makes it particularly special is its status as one of the largest theropods ever discovered, rivaling even the famous Tyrannosaurus rex.

It has a remarkable set of serrated teeth, which it used to slice through the flesh of its prey. These teeth were designed for efficient hunting and allowed Saurophaganax to take down large herbivorous dinosaurs. It had powerful jaws and sharp claws, making it a formidable predator in the Late Jurassic ecosystem.

Rare Oklahoma Fossils

Fossil of a wolly mammoth's molar
Mammoth molar photo provided by Fossil Era – @fossilera

Aside from common finds, you can also discover rare Oklahoma fossils, although they’ll be challenging to locate. Some of them are:

  • Mammoth
  • Mastodon tusks

The Best Places To Find Fossils In Oklahoma

Your best chance of finding fossils in Oklahoma is by looking for them in the right place. Below are our top recommended sites to explore and search through for these ancient treasures:

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.

These requirements are subject to change without notice and may differ from what we state below.

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding.

Arbuckle Anticline

Area rock formation at Arbuckle Anticline

Arbuckle Anticline is a fold in the Earth’s crust that stretches across southern Oklahoma, creating a series of exposed rock layers that date back to the late Paleozoic era, around 300 to 500 million years ago.

What makes this place particularly enticing for fossil hunters is its abundance of well-preserved marine fossils, providing a window into the ancient seas that once covered this region.

Since it spans a large area, the Arbuckle Anticline is relatively easy to reach. This accessibility makes it a great destination for both seasoned fossil hunters and beginners.

Where and what fossils to find in Arbuckle Anticline

Interestingly, Arbuckle Anticline’s Bromide Formation is reported to contain more than eighty brachiopod genera.

The rocks exposed here also contain a rich assortment of other fossils, including bryozoans, corals, graptolites, mollusks, and trilobites. These fossils are often found in limestone and shale layers, which are prevalent throughout the area.

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 

Southwest Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Southwestern 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.

Lake Texoma

Calm waters and surrounding layers of rocks at Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma is not just a popular destination for boating and fishing; it’s also a hidden gem for fossil enthusiasts. This massive reservoir was created by the Denison Dam on the Red River.

Its geologic history made this lake an excellent fossil hunting site. Its surroundings feature rocks from the Lower Cretaceous period, which dates back around 100 million years.

If you want to visit here, Lake Texoma is easily accessible by car from major cities like Dallas, Texas, and Oklahoma City. The lake spans both Oklahoma and Texas, with various access points along its shores, so you can reach it with relative ease.

Where and what fossils to find in Lake Texoma

Keep an eye out for ammonites when you’re here. Exploring the shores of Lake Texoma, especially after a rainstorm, can reveal a bounty of fossils washed up along the water’s edge. You can also try your luck in creek beds and eroded bluffs around the lake.

Canadian River

Gushing waters of Canadian River surrounded by rocky landscapes

Meandering through the heart of Oklahoma, the Canadian River and its surrounding banks not only offer scenic views but also a unique opportunity to uncover the secrets of prehistoric life in our state.

This river flows through layers of sedimentary rock, some of which date back to the Late Cretaceous period, around 70 to 100 million years ago. Aside from these rocks, exploring its riverbanks and nearby cliffs can also lead to exciting fossil discoveries.

Thanks to the extensive network of accessible locations along its course, getting to the Canadian River is relatively simple. Major highways and roads crisscross the region, ensuring easy access from cities like Oklahoma City and Amarillo, Texas.

Where and what fossils to find in the Canadian River

Explore both sides of the south shore of the Canadian River up to the Canadian County border in Caddo County, where you can find marine fossils, especially silicified corals.

Fort Gibson Lake

A look at the waters of Fort Gibson Lake from a rocky, higher ground

Fort Gibson Lake, nestled in the northeastern part of our state, is formed by the Fort Gibson Dam on the Grand River. What makes it an ideal location for fossil hunting is its geological history.

The area around the lake boasts rocks from the Pennsylvanian and Permian periods, dating back roughly 300 to 300 million years ago. Often, these sedimentary rocks are home to different marine fossils.

Should you plan to go here, it will be a convenient trip. Fort Gibson Lake is easily accessible by car from nearby towns and cities like Muskogee and Tulsa. Its extensive shoreline features various access points.

Where and what fossils to find in the Fort Gibson Lake

If you explore the shores and creek beds around Fort Gibson Lake, especially after a rainstorm or seasonal changes in water levels, you can find fossils of brachiopods, clams, mussels, plants, trilobites, and other marine life. Trace fossils have also been found here.

Black Bear Creek

Sparse waters of Black Bear Creek surrounded with lush trees

Black Bear Creek is a tranquil waterway that offers a peaceful escape into nature while providing an excellent opportunity to uncover common and rare Oklahoma fossils.

The rocks here date back to the Pennsylvanian and Permian periods, approximately 300 to 300 million years ago. These contain an array of marine fossils. Fossilized shells and imprints of ancient sea creatures are also often embedded in the creek’s exposed limestone and shale layers.

Black Bear Creek flows through several counties in central and eastern Oklahoma, including Okfuskee, Seminole, and Hughes counties. This means you can access this place from points along its course that are easily reached by car.

Where and what fossils to find in the Black Bear Creek

When you explore here, you can find a large number of vertebrate fossils, such as Labyrinthodonts and Trimerorhachis. You can also find amphibians, fish, reptiles, and lungfish burrows with Gnathorhiza specimens.

Other Top Places To Find Oklahoma Fossils By Region

An Ancyloceras heteromorph ammonite fossil
Ammonite photo provided by Fossilicious

If you’re curious about other guaranteed spots to find fossils in Oklahoma, we’ve listed more options for you below, including what kinds of fossils you’ll find in each of them.

Location Fossils
Rock Crossing in Criner Hills, Carter County Diverse trilobites
Tindel Company Gravel Pit in Caddo County Marine fossils, especially silicified corals
Dolese County Gravel Pit in Canadian County Marine fossils
Hinkle Company Quarry in Canadian County Marine fossils
Cottonwood Canyon to its mouth at the Cimarron River in Cimarron County Flora fossils
Coal mines in Mexahoma area in Cimarron County Flora fossils
Abandoned quarry in Clarita, Coal County Crinoids
Fissure fill in Dolese Quarry in Comanche County Captorhinus, Doleserpeton
Old road between Fort Auger and Fort Sill in Cotton County Archeria, Captorhinus, Diadectes, Dimetrodon, Diplocaulus, Edaphosaurus, Eryops, Ophiacodon, Trimerorhachis, Zatrachys
Dolese Brothers Quarry in Cotton County Cardiocephalus
Area road cuts in Hillsdale, Garfield County Mammoth
Three gravel pits in Tuttle area, Grady County Marine fossils
Permian exposures along a ridge in Tabler, Grady County Vertebrate fossils
Wide belt between Holdenville and Spaulding in Hughes County Mesolobus, Marginifera
Road intersection just east of Blaine County line in Kingfisher County Bones and teeth of reptiles and amphibians
Omega quarry in Kingfisher County Caseids, Cotylorhynchus, Angelosaurus, Actinopterygian fish
Asphalt layer in Sulphur, Murray County Gastropods, Nautiloids
Greenleaf Lake Spillway in Muskogee County Crinoids, Invertebrate fossils
Bed of Verdigris River at Okay, Muskogee County Myalina
Midco insect beds in Ceres, Noble County Glaphyrophlebia, Probnis, Scorpion flies, Dragonflies
Limestone near spillway of Lake Okmulgee in Okmulgee County Limipecten
Baroum Ranch in Osage County Clavicosta, Streblochondria, Streblopteria
North of Lawrence area in Pontotoc County Ivory, Mastodon tusk fragments
Along Jackfork Creek in Pontotoc County Pudoproetus
Area quarries and outcrops in Marble City, Sequoyah County Brachiopods, Invertebrate fossils
West of US183 on Manitou Road in Tillman County Amphibia Eryops, Trimerorhachis, Dimetrodon, Orodus
Garnett Quarry in Tulsa County Annuliconcha
Dewey Cement Co Quarry in Tulsa County Actinolepis, Agassizodus, Listracanthus, Petrodus
At “The Mound” in Bartlesville, Washington County Promytilus

Common Questions About Fossil Hunting In Oklahoma

An almost complete fossil of a Jurassic crocodile
Crocodile fossil photo provided by Fossil Realm – @fossilrealm

Aside from knowing the guaranteed fossil-hunting spots here, it also helps to know the answers to some of the most common questions when it comes to finding Oklahoma fossils, such as:

Can you find megalodon teeth or shark teeth in Oklahoma?

While it’s extremely rare to find megalodon teeth or large shark teeth in Oklahoma, it’s not entirely impossible. The reason for this rarity is our geological history.

Our state was once covered by ancient seas, but these seas were mostly shallow and inhabited by smaller marine creatures, making the discovery of megalodon teeth or large shark teeth uncommon.

Megalodon teeth are typically associated with the Cenozoic era, which spans from about 23 million to 2.6 million years ago. However, Oklahoma’s fossil record primarily consists of rocks from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, which are much older than the Cenozoic era.

Is it illegal to collect fossils in Oklahoma?

Collecting fossils in Oklahoma is generally legal on private property with the landowner’s permission.

When collecting fossils on public lands or in state parks, you should adhere to any specific rules and regulations governing those areas, which may include permit requirements or restrictions.

Additionally, collecting fossils for commercial purposes may have its own set of regulations and permitting requirements. For more information, you may visit the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website.

Can you find dinosaur bones in Oklahoma?

Yes, you can find dinosaur bones in Oklahoma, although they are relatively rare compared to other states. Our state has yielded fossils from several dinosaur species, and there have been notable discoveries over the years.

One of the significant dinosaur finds here is our state fossil, the Saurophaganax maximus. Its fossil remains were discovered in the Black Mesa area in the western part of our state.

Another noteworthy discovery was the Tenontosaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period. Its fossils have been found in various parts of Oklahoma, including the Antlers Formation.

Our Favorite Places To Buy Fossils In Oklahoma

Showroom and available items at Chalk Hills Fossils, LLC

Another great way to find fossils from Oklahoma is to visit our trusted local shops here. Who knows, you might like a specimen so much that you’d want to buy it for your home.

Below are some of the local stores you can visit:

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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