If you look at the second photo first, I don’t blame you if you ask me, have you been back in Badlands National Park, South Dakota again? No, not at all. Joan and I stopped on our way home from Pilot Knob State Park last Monday at the incredible Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve in Floyd County, Iowa, located just a few miles west of Rockford, Iowa. The park includes an abandoned shale pit, preserved kilns, and a large area of native prairie. Our time was limited and so we just explored the former shale pit.

Shale pit at Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve, Rockford, Iowa

The rocks in the park are Devonian formations and about 375 million years old. At that time Iowa was still located near the equator and seas covered most of the land. As a result we can find many small fossils between the relatively soft limestones and shales. And here is the cool thing, fossil collecting is encouraged within the park. And that’s what we did and enjoyed (beside making a few clicks with the camera). I found mostly Brachiopods as you can see in the first photo, but Joan had also some Gastropods, little snails that scavenged the ancient sea floor.

If fossils and rocks are not “your thing”, well, the native prairie area with some wetlands and a pond looked very promising. Unfortunately time was too short to explore all of it, but we definitely “bookmarked” this area in our brains for another visit sometime.

(source used for some details provided in this blog post: Park brochure by Iowa Geological Survey)