Ladonia Chamber of Commerce

Ladonia Fossil Park


October 18, 2014


Ladonia National Fossil Day Events

  • Saturday, October 18, 2014
  • 9-10am Registration, Fannindel High School Cafeteria, Ladonia
  • 10am NFD Program:
    • Welcome:  Mayor Chris Burch
    • NSR and Ladonia Fossil Park:  Kenny Karl
    • In Memory of Dr. Joan Echols:  Doug Franklin
    • Safety and Hunting Fossil Park at NSR:  PK Kirkpatrick
    • Paleo Periods of NSR:  Diane Brownlee
  • 11am Adjourn for Ladonia Fossil Park at NSR
    • Individual and group hunting of NSR Canyon Area
    • Group Guides Available
    • Identification Table at Pavilion
    • Food Concession at Park by Ladonia Chamber of Commerce


The park is open 365 days a year but hunting is determined by whether water is in raging flow. Due to safety issues, hunting is allowed only when the river is not flowing. Admission is free. The fossils date back about 80 million years or more. With a few exceptions, hunters may collect and take fossils out of the river. A fossil left in the riverbed or embankment will not be there after the next big rainfall due to extreme flow rate of the raging North Sulphur River. Exceptions are large museum worthy finds and unusual and rare specimens. For many years, the North Sulphur River has been an attraction for local fossil hunters, amateur and professional paleontologists, and various fossil, paleontological, gem and mineral groups and societies in Northeast Texas. More recently, it has attracted national attention.


Ladonia Fossil Park is a project of the City of Ladonia, Texas and is located two miles north of downtown Ladonia on Highway 34 north and west of the bridge spanning North Sulphur River. The park sits on the bank of the vast river channel and provides an entrance into canyon hunting grounds that have yielded a variety of fossils from the Cretaceous and Pleistocene Periods. The river banks and river bed provides fossil enthusiasts with surface area exceeding a thousand acres for hunting.

The channelized riverbed, dry most of the time, stretches a distance of about ten miles to the west of and ten miles to the east of Ladonia Fossil Park and is open year round for fossil hunting. The canyon is approximately 300 feet wide and 80 feet deep. Cretaceous fossils including mosasaurs and plesiosaurs are found in the bed while Pleistocene fossils including mastodons and mammoths are found in the banks. Of particular interest to serious fossil hunters are red bed outcroppings.

Ladonia Fossil Park Rules

The City of Ladonia is not responsible for accidents or injuries occurring on this property. Use of this property is at your own risk.

• Fossil collecting is allowed only within the river beds and banks.

• Parking permitted in designated area only.

• Possession/discharge of firearms, hunting and archery are prohibited.

• Possession/consumption of alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs is prohibited.

• No pets allowed.


Enter and exit collecting area at designated points only. Area has dangerous drop offs, steep slopes and loose soil.


Encounters with dangerous insects/animals are possible.

Web searches yield several hits for Pete Patterson Fossil Park, aka Ladonia Fossil Park one of which is available below:

October 18, 2014

A workshop for participants will begin the day at Fannindel School Cafeteria located at 601 W. Main Street in Ladonia.  Workshop registration begins at 9:00am continuing to 10:00am when the program begins.  Ladonia Mayor Chris Burch will welcome visitors and give driving directions to Ladonia Fossil Park.  Master Naturalist Kenny Karl will give history of the NSR and how the park came into being.  A long time educator and NSR hunter, Dr. Joan Echols, will be remembered.  A long time professor of earth science at East Texas State University, Dr. Echols was a specialist in formation of the Sulphur River Basin.

Fossil collector PK Kirkpatrick, who has collected at NSR for more than 25 years will address safety issues for safely hunting at the Park and share information on what to look for and how to have a great hunt at the North Sulphur River Canyon.

By 11am, participants will adjourn from the school for guided and individual exploration at nearby North Sulphur River Canyon fossil beds.  The North Sulphur River in southeast Fannin County is noted for Cretaceous Period marine megafossils such as mosasaurs and plesiosaurs and for Ice Age fossils such as mammoths and mastodons.

Member of the Bois d’ Arc Chapter and the Blackland Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist will be present to assist at the park, and members from Dallas Paleontological Society will help with identifications or finds and offer information about hunting of fossils.

Stephen Gozdecki of the Society said his organization’s book, Fossil Collector’s Guidebook to the North Sulphur River, will be sold at a special NFD price at the event.  The book is a reference guide to fossil identification for fossils from the NSR in Fannin, Delta, and Lamar Counties of Texas.

The Blackland Chapter of TMN has teamed with the Heard Museum of McKinney to offer the Ladonia event as part of the museum’s Third Saturday Nature Talks.  The special trip will provide transportation from the Dallas-Ft Worth area (bus will depart Saturday morning from the Agrilife Parking lot in McKinney) to the Ladonia Fossil Day Event.  This special Third Saturday Nature Talk will be led by Geologist Diane Brownlee, who will be sharing her knowledge of the NSR.  The Field Trip will be available to the first 50 participants signing up at Heard Museum.  Cost is $22 for the round trip, and reservations may be made at the Museum by calling (972)562-5566.

Partners joining the City of Ladonia to host the National Park Service sanctioned event include the Dallas Paleontological Society, and Texas Master Naturalist Bois d’ Arc Chapter and Blackland Prairie Chapter.  NSR hunter tells participants, “While workshops of this caliber are usually with significant fee, these National Fossil Day events are free, thanks to a number of volunteers from our sponsoring organizations!”

In event of heavy rainfall, the river excursions will be postponed.  PK Kirkpatrick said those going on the excursion need to pack water, wear close-toed shoes or mud boots or mud wading shoes if the area should be so lucky to have had recent rainfall.  Also those with arthritic knees, ankles, backs and mobility problems may want to stay topside at the park and not enter the river bed because of the steepness and height of steps at the park.

For more information on the event, call Ladonia City Hall at (903)367-7011.

PaleoArt Drawn to Dinosaurs:  Thursday, October 9, 2014, 7-9pm,  Creative Arts Center, 200 W. Fifth St. Bonham, TX 75418

Hear: Kenny Karl on North Sulphur River (NSR) History,                                    PK Kirkpatrick on NSR Fossils and Rachel Van Citters on PaleoArt

The program will address paleoart and North Sulphur River sites, with an emphasis on history of the artform and the Fannin County NSR location.



Ladonia Chamber of Commerce