Lester Park

A Gem of New York Geology
  • woods in park
  • stone wall in woods
  • stone wall in park
  • map drawing

You can walk on a 490 million year-old tropical sea floor just northwest of Saratoga, New York. Lester Park, an outdoor exhibit, was donated to the Museum in 1914 as a "Scientific Reservation."

Lester Park lies on both sides of Lester Park Road between Route 29 to the south and Route 9N just northeast. It is marked by a blue and yellow State Education Department sign. The site has “teach-yourself” panels that explain the shallow sea floor and ancient stromatolite fossils on the east side of the road LP-1-2), the old lime kiln from the early 1900s on the west side of the road (LP-3-7), and the old Hoyt quarry (LP-8-13) at the end of a path just 50 yards west of Lester Park Road.

The fossils you'll see at Lester Park are called stromatolites ("layered rocks"). They were constructed by "blue-green algae" on a shallow sea floor that is now exposed. While they were growing, New York and the eastern US lay south of the equator. The stromatolites at Lester Park were the first described in North America and remain a valuable teaching aid for college and university classes nationwide.


Stromatolites, or layered stones, are formed in very shallow marine waters by cyanobacteria mats (often called 'blue-green algae'). The layers reflect growth spurts of the mats that may correspond to tidal cycles. Many fossil marine animals, such as snails, trilobites, and brachiopods, are found between the stromatolites.


Look and learn, but do not collect any rocks, plants, or animals. No reservations necessary, just stop by this free exhibit.

Saratoga Springs , NY ,