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Abstraktum

Flying to the US for digging (HC) and visting museums

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Abstraktum

Hello everybody :) 

 

This will be a bit longer and I hope you stick with me.

 

So I've planed on opening this topic for quite a while now and I think it's the time to go now. Maybe it's stupid, maybe not. Let's just see where this will go.

With 31 and no kids (not yet) it's the best time to do this now. I won't get younger and you never now how long you can just leave for vacation as you like it. :) 

 

I was already three times in the US but never did anything with fossils (as in digging or visiting museums). So why not just go to the US, dig up some stuff and enjoy the most beautiful Dino fossils out there. We have some nice museums in Germany / Europe, but nothing compares to the museums in the US. 

 

Inspired by a lot of TFF Members and their great field reports I just want to dig for one time in my life at the Hell Creek Formation and visit some museums there. I'm aware that HC Formation spans mainly across MT, WY, ND and SD. 

Hell_Creek_and_Lance_formations.jpg.41214c6c7b4fe73fdcda2713292fa6eb.jpg

 

 

I'm looking mostly for Dino teeth of any kind as they are small enough to actually bring them back to Germany. I have no interest in finding big bones or fossils like that, because 1. I don't know how to recover them correctly and 2. I can't take big and heavy fossils onto a plane back to Germany. 

 

I'm planing to do this trip at some point in 2020 and dig for several days and just enjoy the US. I have no problem with driving long distances by (rental) car.

 

So to summarize it: 

a ) Visting museum with lots of Dino fossils. 

b ) Digging up Dino teeth at HC and return with them to Germany.  

 

So I'm trying to organize this topic with different questions 

 

1. What's the best time?

What time of the year has the best weather conditions for going out to dig? And is there a "tourist time" that I should avoid? As in a lot of people digging at the same spot.

 

2. Where am I allowed to dig? 

The most difficult and important question. Can I dig as a private person / foreigner on US soil and can I keep these fossils? Do I need specific permission?

I'm aware it can depend on the state, the property and who allows it or doesn't allow it. 

Just seraching the internet is not very helpfull to find specific information at what specific strip of land I am allowed to dig. 

So the easiest way is that someone just shows it to me like "look, here you can dig and keep your stuff, here you can't do that"

In the end I need someone to tell me at what very specific locations I am allowed to dig. 

 

3. Just go with a guided tour?

On the web there are several guided tours for digging in the HC Formation. This would sure be the easiest way, but most tours don't allowed you to just keep your fossils. You have to buy your own found fossils in order to keep them. With this I just can buy teeth on the web. Also the trip itself costs money. And the tours are only at specific times. I want more independence deciding the specific date and have just my own freedom (within the law). 

But maybe someone has a good tip for me. Maybe someone knows someone who does some tours or anyone from there who can help.

All legal issus aside, I need to find the actuall HC Formation within the land. Pritty sure I won't find anything if I just get out of the car somewhere and start digging a hole in the ground :P

This would be a rather expensive and big trip for me. With flying across the atlantic I need to know where to go and what to expect. I can't waste any day with searching around where to dig. I need to know this in advance.

 

4. Where to get proper equipment?

I can't bring any big/heavy tools or stuff like this, as I'm traveling by plane. Any idea what to do? Just buy some cheep tools for this tour once I'm in the state? 

 

 

5. Where in the HC area are the best museums?

Simple question. I wonder what great museums are out there. :) 

 

6. Can I board a plane back to Germany with fossils?

All the great fossils don't help much if I'm not allowed to bring them to Germany. I don't know if I could get in trouble at the airport with US border patrol / TSA / Customs if I want to leave the US with fossils. Do I need a receipt? A confirmation of any kind, that I bought / dug up these fossils legally? Or do they just not care? Is it just like a souvenir? Some contries view fossils as a national heritage. How does the US handle this at airports?


 

If you made your way through my sluggish english until this point: Thanks!

I hope I didn't make myself a fool with this and the trip is not possible anyway because only scientific people are allowed to dig there, but I just hope this trip is possible in some way for me.

Any help and tips are very welcome. :) 

I think I'll fly from Munich to Chicago and then start my trip from there to the west. But I'll have to see where I end up with. Maybe I fly somewhere else and head to HC. :)

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connorp

Your best bet is a guided tour. I've heard good things about PaleoProspectors but their trips are often completely booked years in advance. Yes, most don't allow you to keep any museum quality fossils you find, but there aren't many other options to legally hunt HC. Most of the exposures are on private land and it can take years to make enough inroads to be allowed to hunt on ranchers' land.

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Troodon

Yep the real problem with anyone wanting to collect in the HC is access to areas where there are exposures.  There is simply no public areas to collect and since legal collectible exposures are on private land permission is needed if you know which ones have dinosaurs.   Not a realistic approach.

 

One option is to hook up with a dig group but like you said there are downsides associated with all of them.   All the other questions can be addressed after you know where and who you are collecting with.

 

The Carter County Museum is a great small local museum that focuses on the HC.

 

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Mark Kmiecik

If you fly into Chicago you MUST visit the Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH) in Chicago, but be careful because there is so much to see that it may take days. I would plan for two full days at the museum because you will become sidetracked by other things besides fossils, and there are very many fossils. Plus, this is where you will find the finest T-Rex specimen in the world, and many other species that are even better. It is often rated as one of the top three paleo museums in the world and, believe me, once you're inside it's hard to leave.

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DPS Ammonite

Don’t forget about collecting invertebrates. You can collect reasonable amounts of common invertebrates for non commercial purposes on BLM and US Forest Service lands. Consider talking to local paleontology clubs near the areas that you want to collect. They often know about the local spots not on the internet.

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Dinoguy89

As others have pointed out, you can't just go digging in public areas and even if you were allowed its unlikely you're going to find good material. I'd recommend PaleoProspectors as they have private sites they dig at, which usually produces a fair amount of material. They rotate different sites depending on time of year and session you chose, so that's something you'd have to find out yourself depending on what you'd want to find. They have slots for 2020, but this doesn't come cheap. Another thing to bare in mind is if you do go with these guys they will let you keep any material you find, unless it's T-Rex.

 

Also agree with the Museums that have been listed above.

 

Good luck and hope you find what you're looking for :)

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Uncle Siphuncle

Guten Abend.  As mentioned, a dino trip requires advance planning plus viel Geld.  If you are able to expand your target faunal spectrum, you could come home with nice variety.  For vert fossils, you might consider the M&M Ranch in NW Nebraska for Oligocene mammals and tortoises.  You could also visit one of the commercial Green River quarries in Kemmerer, Wyoming for Eocene fish.  For invert material, you could take home some trilobites from the U-Dig pay quarry near Antelope Springs, Utah.  In between and around these sites, with research you should be able to find fossil leaves, insects, and perhaps some ammonites, depending on how far you care to drive.  Because of frozen ground and snow cover at high elevations, you'd be best served to make this trip in June, July, or August.

 

I flew from Texas to Germany in 2011 and 2015, taking fossils in carry-on bags and checked bags going both directions both times, with no problems.  But Germany has enacted some new regulations within the last year or 2, so you'll need to be current on them.  There have been no new federal regulations enacted in the US to be aware of.  I have done some trades with German collectors this year and had no customs problems with Texas fossils making it to Germany.  So there is the option of shipping fossils home too if you don't want any hassles at the Flughafen that could cause delays.  

 

Viel Gluck!

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Abstraktum

First off all: 

Thank you everybody for the input. Finally I got some decent an precise information on what is going on at HC :)

 

I see that doing a trip on my own will not work. I won't get any sort of permission what so ever and just driving thorugh the land and hoping to find someone who let me dig won't work in any way. 

I already stumbled uppon PaleoProspectors and this seem to be the most reasanable option for a guided tour, but most of the spots are already full for 2020. 

Gonna start to write some E-Mails now and see where this is going :)

 

Thank you again everybody!!!

 

 

 

 

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Troodon

Another quality group is PaleoAdventures who operates out of Belle Fouche, SD.  Digs in a channel good experience but there is the downside of not keeping certain specimens 

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minnbuckeye
12 hours ago, Mark Kmiecik said:

Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH) in Chicago

 

Mark mentioned the great museum and T Rex above. The finders of "Sue", that T Rex, have a museum absolutely full of beautiful displays called the Black Hills Institute of Geologic Research. This is a must stop if in the area.  

 

 If you take Uncle Siphuncle's suggestion further and expand to Cambrian, Ordovician, or Devonian, I can surely take you out to some sites around Iowa, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Just let me know. But it is understandable that Cambrian trilobites are far from a T Rex!!! I would go for the Dino.

 

 Mike

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PaleoNoel

Paleoprospectors would allow you to keep essentially everything you find and I would highly recommend them. There are a few spots available for the 2020 dig season but most spots are booked. There are more spaces available during the dig week in the Oligocene white river formation, but there are a couple remaining in the Lance fm. 

Link is https://www.paleoprospectors.com/

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Abstraktum

arzgert.jpg.31a30faaa04b1b9d1b7ea2a7ce5a7ae3.jpg

 

I guess sometimes you just have to to it and don't think to much about it. So I got my spot in 2020 :)

I decided to go with paleoprospectors, because they will provide me with a letter for customs, as they already had international participants. Also, as already mentioned, you can keep most of your stuff. Accommodation is also included. I pay a little more but don't have to think much about the organization. 

 

So next July I will dig in Wyoming at Lance Formation for 6 days and one day at their Oligocene ranch. And I'm really excited about it :D 

 

On 4.10.2019 at 2:24 PM, minnbuckeye said:

If you take Uncle Siphuncle's suggestion further and expand to Cambrian, Ordovician, or Devonian, I can surely take you out to some sites around Iowa, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Just let me know. But it is understandable that Cambrian trilobites are far from a T Rex!!! I would go for the Dino.

 

 

Actually I'll might say hello and we could do a little tour. I'm planing to go back by rental car to Chicago after the digging in Wyoming. Doing a nice road trip through the Midwest. :) 

In the next few weeks I will set my flights and then I could say you exactly where I'm at what date. :) 

 

 

Again, a BIG thank you to everybody for your suggestions. 

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Bobby Rico
31 minutes ago, Abstraktum said:

l car to Chicago

That sounds amazing trip :envy:.

I have not read every ones suggestions but in case your not planning to visit the Field Museum in Chicago it pretty amazing and you get to meet Sue. 
 

 

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Abstraktum

Sue and the Field Museum is the very first thing I'll visit ;)

 

I'll fly into Chicago and head to the Museum first, after that I'll go digging. I think the easiest way is to flight to Rapid City and after the digging I head back to Chicago with rental car. 

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Bobby Rico

There is also dave's down to earth rock shop in Chicago  it looks pretty good too.

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Abstraktum
5 minutes ago, Bobby Rico said:

There is also dave's down to earth rock shop in Chicago  it looks pretty good too.

 

Daves Rock Shop is in Chicago? Wow I wasn't aware of that :D

Next stop on the list :) 

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Troodon

If you are driving to Chicago consider the Burpee Museum...they have the Nanotyrannus Jane, oh forgot they call it a juvie Trex, ha ha.  Not far from Chicago.

 

In SD there is the Mammoth site one hour drive from the Black Hills Institute.  

 

Another consideration on your drive to Chicago is the Ashall Fossil beds in Nebraska

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Mark Kmiecik

If you want to see the United States and collect some fossils just one thing you need to know. The United States, not counting Alaska and Hawaii, is almost 28 times as large as Germany. So if it takes a week to see most of Germany and collect a few fossils, it will take more than 1/2 of a year to do the same in the US. Plan as long a vacation as possible. There's very much to see and do.

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Abstraktum
On 10.10.2019 at 8:53 PM, Troodon said:

If you are driving to Chicago consider the Burpee Museum...they have the Nanotyrannus Jane, oh forgot they call it a juvie Trex, ha ha.  Not far from Chicago.

 

In SD there is the Mammoth site one hour drive from the Black Hills Institute.  

 

Another consideration on your drive to Chicago is the Ashall Fossil beds in Nebraska

 

Very cool. Wasn't aware that Jane is also nearby :)

 

 

I'm aware of the size of the US. I already drove around 1,500 miles in California and I just need to put Germany at thetruesize.com in the US to see the size. 

I'm not planing to go everywhere and collect everything. I plan everything ahead and count enough time in it. 

ND and SD only got around 1.5 Million people while Germany at roughly the same size got 82 Million. I sure will enjoy the loneliness of the US and not having any time people around me. Germany is just too crowded lol 

dfgjtgdz.jpg.47a378c4f670538428e30cd6c758da54.jpg

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Mark Kmiecik

Jane is in Rockford, Il, at the Burpee Museum, 90 miles WNW of Chicago. Dave's Rock Shop is in Evanston, Il, just north of Chicago adjacent to Lake Michigan.

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Abstraktum

Well, planing goes ahead and I put together a list of all museums I am able to visit during my stay. :) I think I have covered most of the important museums in that area. If I missed anything I'm glad anyone could point that out. ^_^

 

The Mammoth Site - Hot Springs / SD

Carter County Museum - Ekalaka / MT

Wyoming Dinosaur Center - Thermopolis / WY

Burpee Museum of Natural History - Rockford / IL

Field Museum of Natural History - Chicago / IL

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Coco

Tate Museum in WY with @JPC

 

Coco

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Abstraktum

Very cool. Wasn't aware of that Museum. Thx! :) 

 

I just realized I will be in the US during 4th of July. So as someone from Germany I have no idea on whats going on at 4th of July in the US.:headscratch:On that day I will be in Rapid City / SD.

 

Are museums, shops, restaurants, parks or other public locations open? Are there festivals or other public celebrations?

What do americans do on 4th of July that I could join? :rolleyes:

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rfarrar

There should be fireworks at Mt. Rushmore (about 25 miles from Rapid City) on or about 4 July  - something which hasn't happened for a few years.

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