Fossil Basin sits between the beautiful Ham’s Fork River, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and sagebrush-scented prairies. Made up of the southwestern Wyoming towns of Kemmerer and Diamondville, the basin is rich with history from its early beginning as an ancient subtropical lake, its mid-life as a booming mining town and, now, as one of Wyoming’s best-kept destination secrets. With plenty of unique activities and few crowds, you’re sure to add Fossil Basin to your short list of favorite stops. Once you set up camp in one of Kemmerer or Diamondville’s sites, here are the four best activities to keep you entertained in Fossil Basin:
Go Fly Fishing or Ice Fishing
There are plenty of places in the Fossil Basin to reel in a catch. The Ham’s Fork River, Green River, and Fontenelle Reservoir are a few local favorites. Fly fishermen flock to these spots in the warm seasons, and ice-fishermen take over when the water freezes. No matter what time of year you visit Fossil Basin, fishing is always in season.
Visit Fossil Butte National Monument
Fossil Basin earns its name from the Fossil Butte National Monument—one of the world’s best fossil excavation sites. The Fossil Butte National Monument Visitors Center showcases over 80 fossils including fish, crocodiles, turtles, bats, birds, insects, and plants.
For a hands-on paleontological experience, you can visit private fossil quarries outside of Fossil Butte National Monument to try your luck at fossil excavation! Oftentimes, the quarries let you keep your fossils as a unique souvenir.
Take a Hike or Scenic Drive
Fossil Basin offers quintessential views of Wyoming’s western landscape. Take a short hike on the Oyster Ridge Trail for an overlook of Kemmerer or hike around Fossil Butte National Monument. If you’d prefer to view the scenery from your RV or car, drive the Big Spring Scenic Backway deep into Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Explore the Historic Downtown
Take a walk in Fossil Basin’s Kemmerer and you’ll feel like you stepped into a Western movie. You’ll enjoy the small-town character as you explore the local restaurants, bars, parks, and the first ever J.C. Penney’s store! If you visit in July, hang around downtown for the Oyster Ridge Music Festival where folk musicians travel from across the country to fill the streets with the twangy banjo and country harmonies.
Perhaps you have never heard of Fossil Basin, but once you visit, you won’t forget it. Spend a few days fishing, fossil “fishing,” hiking, driving, and exploring Fossil Basin, and you’ll leave feeling like a local—with plans to return.