5 Top Fossil Sites Around Humboldt Bay

In this day and age of mental overload, it’s often difficult to think about what happened 24 hours ago-let alone what happened 65 million years ago! Why, it was just 65 million years ago that the sandy beaches in Humboldt County were actually part of the ocean floor. How is that possible? Over time, in addition to tectonic plates shifting, the remains of ancient marine life became buried by beach sand and mud. Their fossil remains have been preserved and can be uncovered at the 5 top fossil sites around Humboldt Bay CA.

While you channel your inner “Bill Nye”, you can rest assured that your stay at The Redwood Riverwalk Hotel includes our exceptional hospitality-and a plethora of amenities you won’t find elsewhere.

Thanks to millions of years of tectonic plates colliding, shifting and creating their own version of the “upside-down”, Humboldt County has quite an array of unique geologic features, including the sedimentary layers with the remains of the creatures who lived here millions of years ago. Humboldt State University’s Natural History Museum has Fossil Focus Exhibits which provide in-depth information on fossil types, how they are formed and more.

Before you venture out on your fossil finding expedition, be sure to have the proper tools with you including at minimum a hand trowel, compass, camera, rock hammer, ruler, protective eyewear, work gloves, plastic bags, pencil, marker, boots, sunscreen and a head covering. 

And always abide by a few simple rules:

    • Respect private property and the environment.
    • Leave specimens for future explorers.
  1. Scotia Bluffs: From Arcata, South on Hwy. 101, take the Scotia exit. (exit 679) Scotia Bluffs features a roughly 2-mile section along abandoned railroad tracks of sedimentary layer composed of sandstone with some mudstone. Mollusks and sand dollars are often found, along with some plants, turtles, starfish and whale bone. 
  2. Centerville Beach: From Arcata, South on Hwy. 101, take the Ferndale exit. (exit 692)  As you walk south along the beach, past the gold-colored sandstone, a grey layer of mud begins to appear. Fossils of scallops, cockles, snails, and clams can be found.
  3. Moonstone Beach/Pilot Point: From Arcata, North on Hwy. 101, take the Westhaven exit. Layers of sandstone and coquina formed during the Pleistocene Epoch 700,000 years ago are home to gastropods, mollusks, sand dollars, barnacles, sand dollars, clam and mussel shells and barnacles – you might even find seal teeth!
  4. Patrick’s Point State Park: From Arcata, North on Hwy. 101, take the Trinidad exit. Living invertebrates can be seen in the tide pools at Palmer’s Point and Agate Beach. or look for agates at the latter. Clear or nearly clear agates can also be seen if you look against the light.
  5. Elk Head: From Arcata, North on Hwy. 101, take the Trinidad exit. Around 500,000 years ago (Pleistocene Epoch), this area was an intertidal zone with tidepools and serge channels. What you will find are “trace fossils”, which are hundreds of holes made by pholads or boring clams, along with mussels, dogwinkles and worm tubes.

Our complimentary Lumberjack Breakfast is served 7 days a week, from 6-9:30 AM, which you can enjoy in your room, have breakfast outside, or get your breakfast in a brown bag to go. Our guests over 21 can also enjoy beer and wine on site-simply sign the purchase to your room. With free parking near all guest rooms, our 100% smoke-free policy, free high-speed internet/wifi, free books and games in the lobby (sanitized between uses)…why stay anywhere else? Please call us at 707-725-5500 or book direct online to reserve your room!

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