Kamloops and area has a number of fossil sites nearby. There was once an inland sea over the area and plant and animal life became trapped in layers of mud and silt. Where these old shale layers have been uplifted and then exposed to the air, we can sometimes find fossil impressions by breaking apart the layers. In general, the Kamloops Lake area is the best area to find fossils. Successive seas and lakes have covered the area over geologic time.
The best known fossil bed of our area lies to the west. Fifty million year old plants, insects, and fish have been found at McAbee Fossil Beds (link). The site is a mineral claim and fossil hunters pay a fee to dig. It is currently under provincial review since the province does not yet have laws to protect such sites.
Petrified wood has been found in two sites in the area. One site is 13 miles up the Deadman's Valley. The logs are black and need to be broken out of the surrounding rock. The other site is the McGlashan Petrified Forest (link), covered in a previous post.
Another well-known area is the silt bluffs above and beyond Cooney Bay. The long ridges and gullies coming down from the Dewdrop Range above can reveal fossils in the exposed shale beds here and there. We find the fossils a little dusty or muddy which makes it harder to make easy finds. We bring a water bottle with us to wash off rocks as we search. We have found several plant fossils in this area.
Salmon fossils have been found on the south shore of Kamloops Lake leading scientisits to speculate about an ice free zone in the valley during one of the ice ages,
We have also stumbled upon fossil beds while we have been out hiking and scrambling:
- On the slopes of Estekwalan Mountain not far off the loop trail.
- On the side slopes of Tranquille Canyon in two different places
- In the Outer Dewdrop Range in gullies leading down to the lake.
There are many more fossil sites yet to be found in our area. Watch for the tell-tale shale layers on a side slope and then poke around to see what you can find.