Great Places to Find Fossils
Updated March 2021
Calvert Cliffs is a popular fossil hunting site, and includes a 2-mile wooded hike to the beach. The path takes you through lush marshlands and you might spy turtles, snakes, lizards, beavers and more along the way. The parking area also offers a restroom, playground and picnic area before you set out or when you return.
To get there: Head south of Prince Frederick off Rt. 4 towards Solomons Island. $5 per car. The Park has a capacity, and will turn you away if you arrive when the park is full, so go early.
Find more on Calvert Cliffs at our more in-depth article.
Breezy Point is great for families since it has a nice wide beach, shaded picnic areas, bathhouses and benches. Sharks teeth are abundant. There is a playground for children, volleyball and a 300-foot fishing and crabbing pier. You don’t have to worry about dangerous cliffs here. Open daily, May 1-Oct. 31, 6 a.m. to dusk.
To get there: The beach is 5 miles from Brownies Beach at the end of Breezy Point Road just off Rt. 261.
Weekends and Holidays, Non-County Residents:
Adult (Ages 12 and up): $20
Child (Ages 3 to 11): $12
Weekdays, non-county residents
Adult (Ages 12 and up): $12
Child (Ages 3 to 11): $8
This park was once the home to sharks, whales, crocodiles and other creature that inhabited the shores millions of years ago. A short, half-mile hike will lead you to the beach that holds sharks teeth and other Miocene fossils. There are trails, observations platforms, a fishing pier and a visitor’s center with wildlife displays.
To get there: From I-95 take Rt. 4 south into Calvert County. Just 10 miles south of Prince Frederick, look for the sign and turn left onto Flag Ponds Parkway three miles south of the traffic light at Calvert Beach and Ball Road.
Daily Entrance Fee
January–March: $5.00 in-county resident or non-resident.
April–October: $5.00 for in-county residents, $8.00 for non residents
Brownie’s Beach (Bayfront Park)
NOTE: Brownie’s Beach (Bayfront Park) is CLOSED to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions until further notice. Only Chesapeake Beach residents are permitted. The town does not expect Brownie’s Beach to open to the public in 2021.
Both Brownie’s Beach and Calvert Cliffs State Park have wind and wave battered cliffs that have eroded, revealing treasures of prehistoric species including sharks and rays and even seabirds said to be the size of small airplanes. The cliffs are dangerous and numerous signs warn people to keep clear of the cliffs. Keep an eye on your kids and don’t climb or dig from the cliffs as they continue to erode and fall. The park is located just outside of Chesapeake Beach. Parking is sparse so get there early. There is a short hike through woods to the beach (about 150 yards).
To get there: Take Rt. 2 south from Annapolis to Rt. 260 toward Chesapeake Beach. Follow until 260 ends at traffic light in Chesapeake Beach and take a right on Rt. 261. Just outside of town you will go down a hill. Look for the entrance on the left in the woods with the sign for Bayfront Park.
The C&D Canal is another intriguing spot for fossil hunting. Pamela Cowart-Rickman, the Cub Master for Pack 253 in Chestertown, enjoys taking the Cub Scouts to this dredge spoil sight where soil has been dredged and dumped. Construction of the canal began in the 1820’s and workers dug into layers of marine fossil beds and dumped the spoils at spots along the length of the canal. Within these dredge spoils, kids can find Delaware’s state fossil, the Belemnite, which is the internal ballast of ancient squid and looks like an amber bullet. You can also find shell casts, extinct oyster shells, and trace fossils like burrow casts. As the spoils are continually taken and shifted by trucks to be used in construction, the sight is in a constant state of flux.
To get there: Follow I-95 to Rts. 202/141 south past New Castle and take Rt. 9 south. In Delaware City, just after you cross the bridge over the waterway, turn right onto the small access road. (If you cross the C&D canal, you’ve missed the turn.) Continue on the access road past Fort Dupont State Park. Turn left at the end of the road and go under the bridge. Take the left after the bridge and go up the small hill where you can park anywhere.
Websites of interest
The Calvert Marine Museum‘s website has a paleontology page that provides links to a fossil identification guide, locations to find fossils, fossil field experience, and more.
More in-depth information on the Cretaceous Fossils from the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal from the Delaware Geological Survey
For a resource for fossil collectors around the mid-Atlantic area, including virtual tours of fossil sites and fossil identifications visit fossilguy.com
For an informative and interactive site for kids visit fossilsforkids.com
Provisions for a fun and safe fossil outing
• A sieve. A plain, old plastic kids’ one works great. I made one once using screen mesh but the dollar store plastic kiddie ones work better.
• Water and a picnic in a portable cooler.
• Sunscreen and an umbrella for shade.
• Water shoes so you don’t step on broken glass or sharp objects.
• Ziplocs or other containers for safe keeping of your treasures. My friend brings film canisters or bubble gum containers for her kids. Mark with names so kids don’t get their bounty mixed up.
• Hand sanitizer. Digging for fossils can be messy.
• Towels, swimsuits, change of clothing (can leave in car and change there). A jug or 2 of water also helps with washing up.
• Camera to capture all those smiles.
• Beach chairs. The kids can spread out on towels or blanket.
• A small cart for lugging all the gear.