Historically, fossils collected in Arizona had been shipped worldwide and displayed anywhere but in Arizona. The trend now is to establish regional collections and museum displays in this state. The Mesa Southwest Museum is on the forefront of such efforts and has recently established a world-class paleontology program for both professional scientists and those who just love fossils. Check out the smaller places too; little museum, traveling exhibits, rock shops like Tucson Mineral and Gem World. You may be surprised at how many fossils FROM Arizona you'll be able to see, and in some cases touch or bring home.
ARIZONA STATE MUSEUM, Tucson: Mammoth remains displayed in this fine museum are associated with the artifacts of early Americans. The museum, mostly an anthropology museum, houses a world class collection of artifacts from the American Southwest and Mexico.
GEOLOGY MUSEUM, University of Arizona, Tucson: Many interesting fossils from Arizona and other states are displayed here. The mineral section, having been relocated to the Flandrau Planetarium building on the campus is contains some of the most spectacular specimens to be seen in Arizona.
Mesa Southwest Museum: Mesa 

The Mesa Southwest Museum has the largest collection of dinosaurs in Arizona. The Curator of Natural History is assisted by adjunct curators, museum volunteers, and members of the Southwest Paleontological Society, who conduct field work, prepare fossil material in the paleontology laboratory, catalogue fossil specimens, and cast and mount materials for display. The Museum's Southwest Paleontological Symposium is an annual one-day event organized by the Mesa Southwest Museum designed to encourage communication between professional paleontologists, avocationalists and the public; and promotes interest in the fossil history of the Southwest.

Triceratops exhibited in the Mesa Southwest Museum
The Mesa Southwest Museum is located at 53 N. Macdonald Street, in downtown Mesa,. Call the museum at 480.644.2230 or visit their Website at www.mesasouthwestmuseum.com for more information.

The Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) houses over 22,000 specimens including rocks, minerals, fossil vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants from across the Southwest, with particular focus on the southern Colorado Plateau. The fossil research collections are well represented by Paleozoic invertebrates from the Grand Canyon area.

Additionally, the museum houses and displays Triassic vertebrates from the broadly exposed Chinle Formation, a large fossil trackway and footprint collection from both the Permian Coconino Sandstone and the Triassic Moenkopi Formation, Late Cretaceous faunas from marine and terrestrial deposits of southern Utah, and late Cenozoic birds and microvertebrates from the Verde Valley area.

Fossils here can be seen in the wild as well as in some fabulous exhibits at the Monument's visitor center. Collecting petrified wood is a hanging offense within the Monument's boundaries, but area exposures are accessible. Despite the regulations, and availability of fossil wood outside the park's boundaries, thousands of pounds of these fossils are pilfered each year. The Petrified Forest is not far from Holbrook. Travelers should take Exit 311, drive through the park and connect with Highway 180 at the south end. Highway 180 north returns to Interstate 40 via Holbrook.


There is a really nice Earth History Gallery, with some great fossils. Really it's the story of Arizona's fossil history. Also displayed are two replicas of two fossil dig sites. The cliff face containing the bones of the brachiosaur dinosaur Sonorasaurus is faithfully replicated (Note: I directed the two-year dig on this dinosaur), and in the Grasslands Exhibit, is a terrific replica of a mammoth kill site I designed when I was their paleontologist, complete with bones and artifacts and fossils displayed here. Don't visit Arizona without a stop at this fantastic natural history facility. I was the paleontologist for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for many years.

Tucson Mineral and Gem World has been one of the landmarks in this Arizona city for many years. While it calls itself "rock shop" it has been a destination for many fossil and mineral hunters who come to Arizona. Tucson Mineral and Gem World displaces hundreds of thousands of specimens, and has an entire section devoted to just fossils, many of which were found in Arizona. Located on Kinney Road just down the road from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the famous movie location of Old Tucson , the store is a haven for all kinds of naturalists, especially those with a geological bent. The store is run by real museum veterans who have professionally collected just about every kind of fossil there is to find, and they are a wealth of information. So if you're anywhere near Tucson, this is a place you really need to visit. Tucson Mineral and Gem World is located at 2801 S. Kinney Road (reached via Speedway/Gates Pass Road or Ajo Way/Kinney Road). For more information phone 520-883-0682 or see their website at http://www.tucsonmineral.com. Their mailing address is Tucson Mineral and Gem World, 2801 S. Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85735

A must stop for fossil enthusiasts when in northern Arizona. Many fossils to be seen both in the canyon and at the visitor's center. The Canyon is well known for its geologic significance, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. It offers an excellent record of three of the four eras of geological time, a rich and diverse fossil record, a vast array of geologic features and rock types, and numerous caves containing extensive and significant geological, paleontological, archeological and biological resources. It is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. The Canyon, incised by the Colorado River, is immense, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. It is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 15 miles at its widest.

Arizona State University

The Robert S. Dietz Museum of Geology has some great fossil displays, including an exhibit of the Chandler mammoth dig, dinosaur bones and skulls, and a host of other exhibits to teach about Arizona geology and paleontology. The museum is located on the Arizona State University Campus in the Physical Sciences Complex, F-Wing. ASU is located on the Tempe campus at University Drive and Mill Avenue. Mailing Address: PO Box 872803, Tempe, AZ 85287-2803 and is open Monday through Friday 9 am - 12 noon. Admission is Free.


The International Wildlife Museum is a natural history museum that highlights over 400 species of animals from around the world that have been donated by government agencies, wildlife rehabilitation centers, zoos, and hunters. Many of the animals are presented in dioramas depicting their natural habitat, from penguins in Antarctica to lions in Namibia. The Museum Education Department conducts tours, summer programs, outreaches, classes, and family events. Compare and contrast the skulls of many different species of crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gavials. Here's a great place to get some real close up views of both modern and extinct animals. This museum has a huge collection of skeletal material for comparative use. The museum is located at 4800 W Gates Pass Rd (West of downtown via Speedway on the road to Tucson Mineral and Gem World, The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Old Tucson. Call the International Wildlife Museum at (520) 617-1439 or visit their Web Site: http://www.thewildlifemuseum.org

Full size replica of Wooly Mammoth at International Wildlife Museum . This extinct elephant species is known from only a few fossils found in Northwestern Arizona.

There are many ways to study reptiles of the past and Tucson's T-Rex Museum has a unique approach. This museum is geared for children , but you will find their views are not like many other museums. The T-rex museum is not a collection of bones, "we are a way of looking at things. We are about fun and "edutainment" and the wonder of a child's mind" . The T-rex museum is located at 1202 N. Main Ave. in Tucson, and is open 7 days a week Mon. - Sat. 10 am to 5 pm , Sundays 12pm to 5pm. A great learning experience for kids.

Yavapai Observation Station 

The Yavapai Observation Station, located 3/4-mile east of the Visitor Center, provides a panoramic view of the Canyon through the building's large windows. Open daily. A fossil exhibit, The Changing Tides of Time, is on display in this historic building. Travel back in time when trilobites swam in ancient seas and prehistoric lizards walked on giant sand dunes.

The Grand Canyon Field Institute is the seminar arm of the Grand Canyon Association, which is the non-profit cooperating association for the national park. Many of their environmental programs are taught by Park Service rangers and archaeologists. For information write the Institute at P.O. Box 399, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023 or call (520) 638-2485.

St.John's Historical Museum

If you're on the way to the Petrified Forest, stop in to this quaint local museum. There you'll find a nice display of the mammoth fossils found in a gravel pit near their town. Such finds show that now-extinct elephants roamed far and wide in Arizona.