2023 Fossil Dig Event

Our normal dig season runs from late June through the middle of August, and may include all or some of the sites listed at the bottom of this page.

Watch this website or social media for upcoming information. We are on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram @NDGSPaleo

To be added to the fossil dig notification list click here:  Dig Notification List

For questions about the fossil digs, please e-mail

The Fossil Digs are currently FULL.  To add yourself to the 2023 Dig Wait List, click the button below!

Triceratops staring at a sundial, waiting

Is there an age minimum / maximum?

Each of our digs has a minimum age of 15 years for a Full Day, or 10 years for a Family Half Day.  This is done for the safety of our participants, as well as the fossils.  All minors (17 years and under) must be accompanied by an adult.  There is no maximum age.  We do not have any digs for children under 10 years.

What is the difference between a Full Day and a Half Day?

A Full Day (ages 15+) starts in the morning ~7:45am, and ends between 4-5pm.  We are on-site this entire time, and will not be making trips back to town.

A Half Day is broken into a morning and afternoon shift.  Morning shift starts at 7:45am, and runs to ~11:30am.  Afternoon shift starts at 12:45pm, and runs to ~4:30pm.  You may only sign up for ONE session per day – not both. 

A Family Half Day includes ages 10+.  An Adult Half Day includes ages 15+.  Please note:  there are NO days that are restricted to 18+ years. 

How many days can I sign up for?

Every dig is set up so that participants may sign up for one or more days.  It is not necessary to sign up for the whole dig week.  If you are a first-time digger, you will be limited to two days per dig.  Not every dig includes weekend days.

Fossil Dig means “Dinosaur” right?

No!  Here in North Dakota we have many types of fossils – not just dinosaurs.  Please see the FAQs below to see what you may find on each of our digs.  The short versions is:  Bismarck = dinosaur age, Pembina Gorge = sea monsters, Medora = swamp critters, Dickinson = early mammals.

Do you have a beginner dig? An advanced dig?

We removed the “beginner / advanced” titles on the digs, as over time they have evolved to include more amenities, allowing more people to attend any dig site successfully.  However, if you have never dug before, we strongly suggest registering for the Medora dig – the fossils are small, the site compact, and the rock easy to dig through.  It is a good site to learn the basics of proper digging technique.

I’ve never dug before – will you teach us how?

Yes!  Educating our diggers on proper technique is a big part of what we do.  Paleontology is not a fast science – it is a careful one.  Our staff spends most of the day working with our diggers, to ensure safe, proper removal of fossils. 

What COVID-19 precautions are you taking?

The North Dakota Geological Survey Paleontology staff are doing all we can to make the summer digs as safe as possible.  To do that, we need your help.

Vans:  masks in the van are recommended.  We will have disposable masks available for those that do not have their own.

If you feel sick (cough, shortness of breath, fever, or sore throat), do not attend the dig.  Anyone that appears sick will not be allowed to attend. We reserve the right to refuse participation, and your ticket will be refunded.  We need to keep our staff healthy - sick staff = digs cancelled for more people.

After your dig is done, if you test positive for COVID-19 – let us know IMMEDIATELY.  If our staff has been exposed to COVID-19, we need to enter quarantine and inform other diggers.  If our staff enters quarantine, the digs will be cancelled (and refunded) for at least one week following notification. 

Friends of NDGS Paleo

Friends of NDGS Paleo

We're excited to announce a new partnership with Friends of NDGS Paleo, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Any donations made to the public fossil dig programs through the Friends group are now tax-deductible! Starting in fall 2021, the Friends group will manage the Dig Supporter and Paleo Pals programs. For more information, you can contact the Friends group at: 

 Friends of NDGS Paleo

Trissa Ford - President

Katy Brooke - Secretary/Treasurer

PO Box 164
Mandan, ND 58554
United States
Phone: 701-516-8665