If you have a budding archaeologist or paleontologist this is the spot for you. Make sure to wear closed toed shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. The paleo dig is one of our top things to do with kids in Payson Arizona. It is great for the entire family and can be as long or as short a visit as you want. Best of all its FREE and you can keep what you find.
It is located on the 260 in Payson. Here is a map as it comes up pretty quick. The first time we went we missed the turn.
From the parking lot the collecting site is direct to the south, on the other side of a wire fence. Keep a look out for snakes as I legit stepped on a baby one. Heart-stopping moment as I’m terrified o snakes.
Where to Look
After going through the gate, you will see an exposed rock outcrop to your right approximately 25-30 feet tall. This is the main collecting area of the paleo dig that most focus on. It requires some digging and scrambling up a pretty steep slope.This seems to be the area where most of the larger brachiopods can be found. My husband and son found some nice specimens there.
Below the outcrop face, there are some piles of rubble. They found a few specimens there as well and it was a good spot for my 4-year-old as it was a bit less treacherous.
A great spot was just as you go in from the gate directly to the right is a little hill area. We found a ton there. Pretty much every rock you picked up had a specimen in it. A couple digging there also found a bone while we were there and my hubby found some rose quartz.
After digging around we took a short hike around the paleo dig site and actually saw a few deer. There is plenty of hiking available around the paleo site but keep in mind there are not any designated trails. Some spots were a bit thick with trees and my youngest got stuck in a pricker bush. If you plan to hike long pants and closed toed shoes are a must.
The Paleo dig site is one of our favorite things to do with kids in Payson Arizona. And yes you find actual fossils. Check out below some of the items we found. Are there any little known spots in AZ that you visit?
For another great place to visit up North check out Montezuma’s Castle