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Belated trip report from Big Cedar Ridge near(ish) Worland, Wy


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This report is long overdue, but I thought might be worth posting based on the response to the rolling auction items currently up for bid...

 

In the early summer of 2017 my family and I set out on a 7000+ mile roadtrip through 21 states.  The trip gave me the opportunity to collect at a couple of famous sites like the Kemmerer's green river formation and wheeler shale in Utah, but one stop combined fossil collecting with some of the most beautiful countryside I've had the opportunity to experience.  Big Cedar Ridge is a late cretaceous deposit near Worland, WY.  The plant fossils are plentiful but delicate in a light gray matrix, I say "in" rather than "on" because the fossils were the result of a large ash fall that buried the foliage where it stood so the fossils are often in 3 dimensions rather than simply found on horizontal planes.  To say it's off the beaten path is an understatement, but it's well worth the effort.  Make sure you pay attention to the weather, pack appropriately and make sure your spare tire is in good repair... just in case.

 

We started out early from a bed and breakfast at the base of Devil's Tower (thanks to @minnbuckeye's recommendation).

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After a 3+ hour drive we got to a spot where I thought the road should be a little past Ten Sleep, but there were no road markers to be found.  We went a little further before turning around and taking the unmarked dirt road we initially passed.  We didn't see another car once we made the turn so make sure you have everything you need.  The drive is 15 miles of dirt roads through BLM cattle grazing land.

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Our weather in early June was perfect which allowed us to really appreciate the scenery along the drive.

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We did have one bit of excitement on the drive in when a cow decided to take umbrage at our passing by and chased the car for a quarter of a mile or so.

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And finally after a little more bouncing down the road... 

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We finally found the site

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The three signs displayed give a nice overview of the site and what can be found there.  I'm guessing very few people ever find them so I'm not sure how often they actually get read.

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We got to spend a few hours working one of the pits left by a previous digger.  My son took this shot of my wife and I from the car.

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And here is my wife and son playing in the dirt.  Notice how fine the discarded matrix looks.  It is so soft the weather breaks it down to dust so BLM requests that you work in horizontally and not remove the overburden which is pretty much the opposite of everywhere else.  If you remove the overburden the fossils beneath would be ruined by being exposed.  All the orange you see in the pit or on the pile are fossils.  The site is very rich, but getting useful pieces out is a challenge.  The ground was damp when we were there so it was very hard to extract and sizable pieces without them crumbling in our hands.  I found the most viable method was to start low and work my way up from the initial void working with a thin chisel to pry and my hands.  Heavy hammering just shattered the matrix.  Because the fossils can be oriented horizontally and vertically in the matrix it was very challenging.

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I do NOT recommend stacking fossils in the bucket the way we did which was just for transport down the hill to the car.  Take materials to wrap the fossils to the collection site and wrap them before moving them.  The fossils at the bottom of the bucket were damaged by the short walk to the car.  Because the matrix was damp I recommend bringing heavy paper towels or a box of disposable work towels (we got blue ones from a Lowe's for our trip and they were perfect for this matrix) with masking tape.

 

My son, king of the hill.

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And after a long day digging we still had a couple more hours on the road to get to Cody, WY our next stop on the tour.

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Our friend here didn't want to get out of the road... (this was not THAT cow, just one of many we saw)

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Heteromorph

Wonderful finds amongst truly breath taking scenery! Will stick around for the rest of your journey :popcorn:

 

Also, nice cows.

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