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La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits Finds on Display at the Page Museum

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Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits has enough prehistoric skeletons to decorate a small town for Halloween. You'll find dire wolves and giant sloths, but it can be disappointing if you expect something else. This guide tells you what you can see inside - or outside for free.

©2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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This exhibit is in the bubbling tar pit in front of the museum and it shows how the animals got trapped in the gooey stuff.

©2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
La Brea Tar Pits

Los Angeles' La Brea Tar Pits are one of the world's best and most important sources of Ice Age fossils.

What's It All About?

How did so many animals come to be trapped and preserved at the La Brea Tar Pits? Part of the answer lies with geology, ancient oceans and rock fissures that carry sticky tar to the surface. Time also played a part. More than 10,000 individuals were trapped here over about 30,000 years.

Scenes from the Tar Pits

Enjoy our best shots in a Photo Tour

George Page Museum

Inside the George Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, you'll find exhibits selected from more than 1 million fossils recovered from the area. They include a wood fragment about 40,000 years old and skeletons of dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, mammoths, short-faced bears, giant sloths and ancient buffalo, as well as many birds and other creatures.

Besides the exhibits, you can watch a short film about how the La Brea Tar Pits were formed and another about how scientists have investigated their contents. Kids especially like the "What It's Like to be Trapped in Tar" exhibit and when a docent is on duty, they can go hunting for "fossils" and get a certificate to prove it.

Outside the Museum

The lake near Wilshire Boulevard was formed when the La Brea Tar Pits were excavated for asphalt in the nineteenth century. Today, it's full of water, covered with an oil slick. Methane gas constantly bubbles up to its surface. On its south shore you'll find a recreated scene of a mammoth getting trapped in the sticky tar.

A stroll around the grounds outside the museum will give you more glimpses into the La Brea Tar Pits, and you'll find several pits of oozing black stuff to peer into on the grounds. The Pit 91 viewing area is open to the public and nearby, you can peer through the fences that surround Project 23, a new experiment in removing fossils from the tar.

You may even find some tar coming up through cracks in the sidewalk in this part of Los Angeles, so watch your step.

La Brea Tar Pits Review

We rate the La Brea Tar Pits 4 stars out of 5. I find the rich picture of prehistoric life that this museum presents more interesting than an isolated creature, even if that creature is a huge one.

However, if you have a young dinosaur-lover, don't expect to find the oversized creatures here. The dinosaurs were extinct for 65 million years before the animals preserved here died.

Details

  • Hours: Open daily except major holidays
  • Cost: You can see the La Brea Tar Pits outside for free,. The museum charges an entrance free but is sometimes free one day per month.
  • Location: Wilshire Boulevard between La Brea and Fairfax, driving directions below
  • How Long: About an hour
  • Best Time to Visit: You'll find people working in the fishbowl lab only during the week

Where Are the La Brea Tar Pits Located?

Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits
Address: 5801 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 934-7243
La Brea Tar Pits Website

The Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits are located on Wilshire Blvd in the "Museum Row" area. From I-10, exit at La Cienega/Fairfax, go north and turn right onto Wilshire or exit at La Brea, go north and then left onto Wilshire.

From I-405, exit at Wilshire Boulevard and go east toward downtown. The La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum are next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Page Museum parking lot is behind the museum. Parking there costs almost as much as one adult admission. You can usually find metered parking on Sixth Street (parallel to Wilshire and behind the museum), and if you can find a spot on the east side of the street, there are no meters. If you park on the street, enter the grounds through the gate located mid-block and you'll walk past Pit 91 and Project 23 on your way to the museum entrance.

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