Saturday, October 19th, 10am-3pm – National Fossil Day
The ETSU Museum of Natural History and Hands On! Discovery Center will celebrate National Fossil Day on Saturday, October 19, from 10 am – 3 p.m at the Gray Fossil Site.

National Fossil Day is an event that highlights the scientific and educational value of paleontology and the importance of preserving fossils for future generations. The day will include a variety of activities and demonstrations for all ages. Visitors will be able to take a tour of the fossil site, see amazing Appalachian fossils up close, and learn about how paleontologists use the latest technologies to research and preserve fossils. Scientists, students, and volunteers will be on hand to showcase the incredible work of paleontology!

Activities will be on-going from 10am to 3pm. All National Fossil Day activities are free to the public. All activities are also included with admission to the Hands On! Discovery Center: $10 for adults and children 4 and older.

The Gray Fossil Site is a one-of-a-kind paleontological resource preserving the remains of hundreds of extinct species that lived in East Tennessee 5 million years ago. Discovered in 2000 during road construction, the site is now home to the East Tennessee State University Museum of Natural History and the Hands On! Discovery Center. It is a hub of education and scientific research.

For these and other events at Hands On! Discovery Center, please visit the Calendar of Events.

Ticket Information

Admission to the Gray Fossil Site is now included with admission to Hands On! Discovery Center.  Click here for ticket prices.

Plan Your Trip

Museum Hours

Gray Fossil Site exhibits are available during Hands On! Discovery Center hours:

Tuesday-Saturday 9am-5pm
Sunday 1pm-5pm
Monday 9am-5pm (during March, June, July, & August only)

Hands On! Discovery Center closed the following holidays:
New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Other Closings:
Please check our Facebook and Twitter pages for snow schedule closings

Membership Information

One-year memberships are available.

Click HERE to for more information or to purchase on-line (add-ons may be added at the front desk on your next visit)


Group Visits

If you are coming with a group of 10 or more paying guests, you may qualify for a group discount. For more information please visit our Group Visits page.



Dwarf Tapir, Tapirus polkensis
One of many species of tapir found at the Gray Fossil Site

What is the Gray Fossil Site?

The Gray Fossil Site is a place where visitors can view and learn about an active Pliocene-era fossil dig site. Scientists believe the site was formed by an underground limestone cave that collapsed and created a sinkhole. This left a vast fossil deposit that dates back approximately 5 million years ago. Animals that have been unearthed so far include: saber tooth cat, alligator, tapir, rhinoceros, short-faced bear, and a mastodon as well as hundreds of plants and other animals.

Come by to learn more about this incredible discovery!

For More Info, visit the ETSU Center for Excellence in Paleontology.

12. volunteer crew in rhino pit

A volunteer crew excavating the Rhino Pit at the Gray Fossil Site Museum and Visitor Center


Party Tapir, Tapirus celebratius
A special species of tapir only found at the Gray Fossil Site

Birthday Parties

Looking for a truly unique and memorable venue? We are now offering Paleo-themed Birthday Parties!  Visit our Birthday Party page to learn more


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