La Brea Tar Pits museum will remain closed until further notice. The park at La Brea Tar Pits is currently open and visitors can currently see paleontologists working at our excavation site weekly.  See NHMLAC's response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Observation Pit

Experience what it's like to descend into an excavation pit.

observation pit at the tar pits

General Info

Monday-Friday: 10 am–3 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 9:30 am–5 pm
Free with Museum admission
Free for Members

What does a La Brea Tar Pits fossil deposit look like?

Step inside the Observation Pit and find out! Within the jumble of bones that’s held together by gooey asphalt, learn to identify iconic Ice Age creatures like giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and even a baby mastodon. You can visit the Observation Pit on your own or as a part of our Excavator Tour, both available with museum admission. 

Exterior of the Observation Pit

The first museum in Hancock Park

Open to the public in 1952, the Observation Pit was the first museum in Hancock Park. Its architect, Harry Sims Bent, is credited with numerous projects around Los Angeles, including the L.A. Central Library and L.A. County Arboretum. Built over Pit 101, it was designed to give guests the experience of entering a fossil pit.  Looking down you will see a mix of real fossils and casts of fossils that have be staged to show you how our excavators find specimens beneath the park’s surface.

On June 28, 2014 the Observation Pit was reopened to the public, after being closed since the mid-1990s.

Experience More

Make sure you explore everything the Tar Pits has to offer