There are many places to see some of the fossils and artifacts excavated in Orange County, and to learn more about the past. A permanent paleontology museum at Ralph B. Clark Regional Park showcases many Pleistocene fossils, including saber-toothed cats and giant ground sloths, and the amazing 30 foot skeleton of a prehistoric whale.
Other exhibits in the County are rotating, so check back often for an exhibit in your neighborhood.
If you have public exhibit space, and are interested in displaying the paleontology or archaeology of Orange County, please contact us at (714) 647-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past million years or so, the area that has become Clark Regional Park has changed from a marine environment to a terrestrial environment. The park's rich fossil beds were revealed when the California Division of Highways excavated sand and gravel from the site for use in construction of the Santa Ana and Riverside Freeways from 1956 to 1973.
Orange County wasn't always populated by nice, friendly people. The original residents were a bit wilder. Mammoths, ring-tailed cats, giant ground sloths, and a unique type of ancient llama lived in this area. Clark Park's nationally recognized Interpretive Center is home to one of the more significant fossil museums in southern California. The recently renoved display contains fossils from the park and surrounging Coyote Hills, and throughout Orange County. There is also a working paleontological laboratory on-site that can be viewed by visitors.
8800 Rosecrans Ave.Buena Park, CA 90621
(714) 973-3170 or (714) 973-6618
Tuesday-Friday 12:30 pm - 5:00 pm. Saturday-Sunday 9:30am - 4:30pm.
Hours may vary. Please contact the front office to confirm operating hours for the day of your visit.
RALPH B. CLARK Regional Park Museum of Paleontology
Ralph B. Clark Regional Park
Our most recent exhibit installation is at the Muth Interpretive Center, at the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve.
Highlighted are fossils and artifacts found around the bay. From 13 million year old sperm whales and desmostylians, to mammoths and shells from the last interglacial period 120,000 years ago, Newport Beach has a rich paleontological history. Additionally, many ancient cultures made the area home, and some of their artifacts are exhibited. See timelines of the history of life and people from Orange County.
2301 University Drive.Newport Beach, CA 92660
Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.
Free Admission and Parking
MUTH Interpretive Center
Muth Interpretive Center
ORANGE COUNTY Archaeology and Native American Cultural Displays
The Bowers Museum
Irvine Regional Park
Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Transportation Corridor Agencies
ORANGE COUNTY Fossil Exhibits
The Toll Roads offices in Irvine and San Clemente house some of the more spectacular fossils found during construction of the toll roads throughout Orange County.
Foothill Ranch Kaiser Permanante
The City of Laguna Hills Community Center
Fossil excavated from construction of the Kaiser Permanante medical office in Foothill Ranch are displayed there, including a whale, a dolphin, and a Pacific Loon from seas that covered the area five million years ago.
The City of Laguna Hills Community Center and Sports Complex were built on one of the richest fossil sites in the United States. In 1996 this wealth of fossil resources was chosen as a theme around which the Community Center and the Prehistoric Playground were designed.
The recently renovated and reopened Age of Mammals hall is a spectacular journey through the last 65 million years of Earth history with a focus on mammals and their adaptation to the environment. L.A.C.N.H.M. contains a large collection of Orange County fossils, including the strange animal Paleoparadoxia on the second floor of the exhibit. Not to be missed!
Let us know if we missed any!
Old Orange County Courthouse
"Before Fullerton - The Prehistory of Orange County" explored the fossil and cultural history of Orange County. Fossils on exhibit were provided by the Cooper Center and Clark Paleontology Museum.
Read more here.
"Keeper's of Orange County's Past - Preserving Our Heritage" displayed many of the fascinating fossils and artifacts from the Cooper Center collection, and explored the history of archaeology and paleontology in Orange County. The exhibit celebrated the partnership between OC Parks and CSU Fullerton, and was the result of this partnership.