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The Ernst Quarries, located near Sharktooth Hill, California, are home to the largest deposit of Miocene marine fossils in the world. The property sprawls over 260 acres and comprises of three distinct quarries. Each quarry yields fossil specimens of various colors and varieties. Together, they offer a unique natural history experience not found anywhere else; and, are a treasured resource to the county of Kern and to the community of Bakersfield.


Our mission is to provide ongoing public access to this one-of-a-kind area, while enabling more scientific research within the quarries themselves. To this end, the quarries are subdivided into two categories: those developed for “public access,” and those designated for “scientific exploration.” The current age limit to participate in activities is 10 years.


On April 11, 2007 Robert “Bob” J. Ernst passed away, leaving behind 342 acres of the most paleontological rich property on the west coast. He died intestate, and his surviving spouse and his only child endured, and emerged from, a lengthy four year probate process.

In September of 2010, 82.5 acres of the original 342 were sold to enable the close of probate (for the payment of legal fees, etc.). This property, commonly referred to as Whale Quarry, was the original property Bob Ernst purchased, and has been heavily excavated over the last 20 years. The current owners use it for private exploration, and small capital ventures.

Prior to the demise of Bob Ernst, he worked tirelessly to establish the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History (BVMNH) located in Bakersfield, California. This included allowing the museum and its members access several times a year to his property for fundraising purposes.

In October 2010, The Ernst Quarries was proud to carry on this tradition of museum access by allowing the BVMNH to put on a “Paleo Dig” for their members and the public at large.

After a successful dig on West Quarry, our most extensive and under excavated quarry, The Ernst Quarries signed a contract with the BVMNH for five consecutive paleo digs running from January to May 2011.

The Future

In June of 2011, The Ernst Quarries will open their newest exhibit, “The Fossil Ranch”. Located at the quarry Slow Curve, it will allow “public access” digging in the evening and early morning hours – to take the bite out of the blistering San Joaquin Valley heat. This operation will run through August 2011.

Also beginning this summer, our quarries of Snake Pit and West Quarry East will be offered up for scientific research by any and all accredited organizations and individuals in the scientific community. Permission to access the property will be to the sole discretion of The Ernst Quarries.

During the fall months of 2011, The Ernst Quarries will again be working hard for public access to Slow Curve and West Quarry West.

In 2012, the Quarries expect some big improvements. These include better access, new roads, and a new themed adventure located at The Snake Pit.

Thank You, and let’s find some fossils!


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