With October sunshine and chilly nights turning leaves to gold and scarlet, are you ready for an eye-popping fall-color road trip combined with some fun natural-history education? Follow the morning sun to Republic in Eastern Washington now through Monday for celebration of National Fossil Day.
Fossil Day is being celebrated with a long weekend of events around Republic’s renowned Stonerose Interpretive Center, dedicated to the study and preservation of fossils from the Eocene Epoch, some 50 million years ago, when the area was covered by a great lake.
Lake-bottom sediment turned to shale that has preserved leaves, twigs, insects and fish from the era. Besides taking in the best fossil displays at the center, visitors can pay a $5-$8 fee to visit the nearby fossil site and excavate on their own (hammers and chisels available for rent, $5). You’re allowed to take home up to three finds per day if they are not deemed of scientific value or significant to the Stonerose collection.
The Fossil Day celebration will include painting a geologic timeline on part of a city street, along with scientific presentations by geologists, paleobotanists and other visiting scientists from across the nation. Topics range from “Washington Fossil Footprints: Tracking Birds and Beasts From a Bygone Era” to “Wading Ancient Waters: The Geologic History of Stonerose Lake.” There will also be fun hands-on activities designed by the scientists. Events are free of charge. More information here.
It’s a long drive from Seattle — about 5 1/2 hours if you take the most scenic route, via Highway 20 over the North Cascades. But it’s a dynamite autumn-color drive, from vine maples on the pass to the golden aspens you’ll see around Republic. Visitor information here.