When I was a kid, we used to walk freshly plowed fields to find Native American treasures like arrowheads, pottery or some sort of object from the past. It was an educational experience every time.

It's hard to know exactly what you found sometimes, but when you found something it was exciting.

In Wyoming, everywhere you turn you can find incredible history.

History from Native Americans, wild west living, pioneers explorations, trails traveled, rock carved, pre-historic animals and all sorts of artifacts consume this state and most of them are all protected by law.


If you're exploring around Wyoming and stumble upon a small piece of history, make sure you're doing the right thing when you think about keeping it.

Artifacts and historical sits are protected

According to the Bureau Of Land Management, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and the Antiquities Act of 1906 were designed to protect cultural resources. What these laws do is prohibit people from taking, damaging or changing artifacts found or historical sites.

BLM can grant permits or authorize individuals, institutions or organizations to conduct research. To obtain the permits, you have to have a degree in a scientific related field.

If you're not authorized to collect these items, you're to leave them alone.

  • Arrowheads
  • Petroglyphs
  • Human graves
  • Old Dwellings
  • Pottery
  • Stone Tools

It's heartbreaking when you see this history that has been defaced or destroyed by those thinking they're 'just leaving their mark on history'. Actually, they're destroying that history.

During a recent trip to Crazy Woman Canyon, seeing the walls spray painted and littered with graffiti was sad.

Crazy Woman Paint
Drew Kirby, TSM

The same when seeing the Petroglyphs at Castle Gardens.

Petroglyph graffiti
Drew Kirby, TSM

Not All Collecting Is Bad And Prohibited

Collecting rocks is known as Rockhounding and is acceptable on the 18 million acres of public land in Wyoming. There are rules that go along with Rockhounding that you need to be aware of before heading out.

Collecting fossils is another possibility, but again, there are rules. If you find fossils that are 'vertebrate fossils' (have teeth, bones or footprints) you CAN NOT collect them. If the fossils are 'invertebrate fossils' or plant fossils, you CAN collect them. See all the fossil collecting rules here.

Collecting small amounts of gemstones on public land is allowed without a permit, as long as you're taking them for personal use and not selling them. You'll need a permit and for large amounts or commercial use.

What Do You Do If You Find Artifacts, Arrowheads, Historic Campsites, Fossil Sites, or other archaeological or paleontological sites?

These findings are important to historical studies of Wyoming, so report the findings and location to the nearest BLM Field Office. The site or find will be studied by Paleontologist or Archeologists to learn more.

Wyoming's history is strong, respect it's land and all that it holds.

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