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Get ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime! Join us for our fossil and mineral excursion in 2023. We are offering flexible dates from June 23rd to July 15th to provide an experience that works within your schedule
Every year natural erosion presents many concretions to the banks of Elk Creek, just waiting to be collected before the next rainfall washes them away. With our identification field guide you are able to experience a unique treasure hunt through an ancient Cretaceous Seaway. There's never a shortage of amazing discoveries, guaranteeing a successful and exciting trip
After gathering our finds from the nearby creek, we will transport all specimens via 4X4 and trailers to our onsite prep lab. Here we will teach you how to use all the tools necessary to transform your creek concretion into a beautiful specimen you'll be proud to display at home
Battery operated drills and saws will be available during field collecting. We will also provide safety equipment such as glasses, gloves, and ear protection. Hammers, pry bars, chisels and collecting buckets are also provided, but you are encouraged to bring any of your own gear that you wish.
is to provide an exceptionally fun, safe and fulfilling collecting experience. Although the fossil balls and concretions are abundant at times, the specimens contained inside are delicate, rare and need to be collected with care. Having collected thousands of fossil balls and concretions over the past 40 years, there are several techniques and approaches we will need to adhere to, in an effort to preserve the specimen value within. We will provide specialized training and supplemental tools to assist with your collecting adventure.
Typically you will be breaking into multiple groups consisting of 3 - 4 people, in addition to one of our experienced field guides. Each group will get to collect on at least two Pierre Shale Formation cut banks, after viewing the surrounding area via 4X4s.
We encourage collecting specimens available through natural erosion, often many fossils are complete and weathered out of their concretions just waiting to be picked up. The proper opening of concretions is a necessity and will be taught to you beforehand and discussed at length. Each person can open at least one prolific fossil concretion, as there can be multiple specimens hidden within each fossil ball. There is a possibility of multiple openings per person depending on what is found, like in the case of opening an empty mud ball. Rarely do we find a Mineral concretion that is accessible, but if we do it will open it as a group with heavy guidance from the excursion guide to ensure proper protocol. Concretion identification will be reviewed before embarking on the excursion.
All specimens and minerals are subject for our ongoing research. We reserve the right to keep any material you may find during this excursion, but are dedicated to making your experience enjoyable and to send you home with the majority of your amazing finds. Below is a list of commonly found specimens we hope you will find when you come to collect with us.
All specimens are generally well preserved with complete nacre, sutures and/or colorful ammolite.
Scaphites; Hoploscaphites brevis and nodosus, up to 3 inches in size
Baculites; Baculites compressus and cuneatus, up to 1.5 feet in size, often smaller
Nautiloids; Eutrephoceras dekayi and nebrascensis, RARE specimens, up to 3 inches in size
Mollusks; Many species of the giant clam Inoceramus, up to 1 foot in size, often smaller but bigger specimens may be negotiated
Gastropods; Many species ranging in size from 1/2 inch to several inches in size
Placenticeras meeki, intercalare and costatum; RARE specimens, anything larger than 6” will need to be negotiated/may cost extra.
Barite, Calcite and Selenite; RARE large concretions with crystals to 1.5 inches, anything over 1.5 inches will need to be negotiated and may cost extra.
Many stones can be found in the creek bed as well, including quartz, agates, feldspar, petrified wood, jade, rose quartz, gypsum and more
Extra Misc.; Fish; Reptile bones (Mosasaur), Shark Teeth, exceptional or large specimens, May all be negotiated but are not included in this expedition.
We reserve the right to keep ANY specimens deemed important for ongoing research at the site.
It can be hot, cool, windy, wet, dry and dusty all in the same day. Dress in layers. Mud boots and hiking boots both recommended. Safety glasses, hearing protection and gloves required. There can be horse flies and mosquitos depending on the time of year. Rattle snakes are rare but are seen on occasion. Lots of wildlife and natural beauty for photographs.
View our shop tab to view all recently collected specimens.
If you have any questions or would like additional information before committing to a trip, please reach out through our contact page!
Lunch is only provided on collecting days. Lodging is not included, but we offer accommodations for an additional fee so you can stay onsite. Cabins with electricity and running water cost $150 per night (All meals included). RV hook up site with water and electric cost $100 per night (All meals included). Closest hotel access is available in the towns of Rapid City (45min drive from Ranch) and Wall, South Dakota (30min drive from Ranch). Regardless of where you stay, there is a ten mile stretch from the highway to the ranch that is an unpaved gravel road. Cell service and roadside assistance is limited so we advise cautious driving and active communication for your safety. We are not responsible for any vehicle damage during your excursion, and will provide transportation upon arriving to the Ranch, and where needed. Please reach out if you would like help getting to and from the airport in Rapid City.
Please download and sign this safety waiver before uploading it to your application below. Any application that does not include a signed waiver will be denied.
A $500 deposit per person is required upon booking. An additional $500 per person must be paid before date of excursion. This is not including additional costs of accommodations that can be arranged later.
A $500 deposit per person is needed to secure your spot for the 2023 Elk Creek fossil and mineral excursion. The second half of your deposit must be received before the date of excursion. Please fill out application and waiver from above prior to payment.
$500, application, and waiver is needed per person to secure your spot in our 2023 Fossil Excursion. If you would like to pay for additional members of your party, or pay in full please click the link below to check out