Children playing at Fossil Park (photo courtesy of Olander Park System)
Travel

Dig in at Ohio’s Fossil Park

The 5-acre environment for exploration in Sylvania’s Olander Park System offers a hands-on adventure for all ages.

Note: As of June 2022, the fossil digging pit is under construction and its opening date is uncertain. Visit their website for updates before traveling. 

Northwest Ohio looked quite different nearly 375 million years ago, when it was covered by an inland sea and teeming with underwater life. Traces of those creatures still exist for visitors to discover at Fossil Park in Sylvania.

Part of the Olander Park System and located just outside Toledo, Fossil Park offers a family-focused adventure that will make you feel like a regular Indiana Jones uncovering secrets that have been long hidden. Visitors dig for real fossils at the 5-acre, ADA-accessible rock quarry — a safe and controlled environment that is home to thousands of fossils brought in from Hanson Aggregate Midwest’s large working quarries, located just a mile south.

The fossils span prehistoric life from the Devonian Era, which began more than 400 million years ago and lasted for more than 100 million years. During this period, Ohio was covered in a warm, shallow body of water.

“Because everything was submerged in water, you can find fossils like corals, brachiopods and trilobites,” says Fossil Park executive director Erika Buri.

Tools like hammers, picks and shovels are not permitted, nor are they needed. The shale the fossils are lodged in is soft enough to break with your hands, making it fun for young and old alike to take part in the experience.

“No matter what age, everyone can enjoy the park,” adds Buri. “No matter how big or small the fossil, it’s like hitting the jackpot.”

When you’re ready to take a break from digging (and, yes, you can take home what you find), head to the 28-acre Olander Park. There, you’ll find Olander Lake, which is perfect for swimming, fishing and boating (rentals are available). A 1.1-mile paved trail circles the lake, providing the opportunity for families to walk, jog or bike together. 5705 Centennial Rd., Sylvania 43560, 419/882-8313, olanderpark.com

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