Ladonia Chamber of Commerce

Ladonia Fossil Park


National Fossil Day set for Oct. 17 at Ladonia and North Sulphur River

By Doug Franklin
Oct 12, 2015

Saturday, October 17 at Ladonia and North Sulphur River

Ladonia — Micropaleontology specialist Gary Turner will be in Fannin County this Saturday, October 17, as main speaker at Ladonia’s National Fossil Day Observance. Mr. Turner, a specialist in microfossils, has recently completed preparing a chapter on the subject to be included in a new fossil book.

Mr. Turner will be presenting at a program Saturday morning that is free to all who come. The fossil program will be  held at Fannindel School Cafeteria located at 601 W. Main Street in Ladonia. Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. and continues to 10:00 a.m. when the program begins.

The program will open with a welcome from local officials to be followed by Kenny Karl of the Bois d’ Arc Chapter Master Naturalist. He will give history of the North Sulphur River (NSR) and how the park came to be among the best fossil hunting locations in Texas.

Fossil collector PK Kirkpatrick, collector in NSR for more than 25 years will address safety issues for 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, located a couple of miles north of Ladonia.

Microfossil specialist Gary Turner from Dallas Paleontological Society will give his presentation on Cretaceous and Pleistocene Period microfossils from the NSR area. He says a person can have a successful year sorting through a bucket of sand from the NSR, but he never bypasses large fossils.

By 11:00 a.m.,  the day’s events will adjourn from the school to nearby North Sulphur River Canyon fossil beds for guided and individual exploration.

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.

In addition to Mr. Turner,  volunteers from Dallas Paleontological Society, Bois d’ Arc Chapter and the Blackland Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist will be present to assist at the park, and  will help with identifying  finds and offering information about hunting of fossils.

Bob Williams 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. Souvenir  tee shirts marking the annual event will be on sale, and food concessions will be available from Brookshire’s of Bonham  food wagon.

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, and Ladonia Chamber of Commerce.

NSR hunter Kirkpatrick 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 there has been rain within the past week.  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 steepness and height of steps at the park.

Ladonia Fossil Park is located two miles north of Ladonia on Highway 34. Ladonia is located about 75 miles northeast of Dallas, midway between Greenville and Paris and is accessible by highway 34 and highway 50.

For more information on the event or directions, call 903-456-2687.

Ladonia National Fossil Day Events

  • Saturday, October 17, 2015
  • 9-10am Registration, Fannindel High School Cafeteria, Ladonia
  • 10am NFD Program:
    • Welcome: Mayor Chris Burch
    • NSR and Ladonia Fossil Park: Kenny Karl
    • Safety and Hunting Fossil Park at NSR: PK Kirkpatrick
    • Microfossil Hunting at NSR: Gary Turner, DPS
  • 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:




Ladonia Chamber of Commerce