Dig up Some Fossil Fun in Nebraska
Nebraska is packed with historical attractions and activities to learn about the past. But what if you want to go waaay back? We've got you covered there, too. Here are some of the top fossil and archaeological destinations that will teach you plenty about the state's deep history.
You won't want to miss this unique stop featuring petrified wood from around the world, ancient fossilized items and a gallery of gems and minerals. You'll also find an impressive collection of Native American artifacts and arrowheads as well as several intricate art projects collected and crafted since the 1950s by twin brothers Howard and Harvey Kenfield.
Agate Fossil Beds is a great place to learn about the ecological, cultural and historical past of this mixed grass prairie. There is an extensive collection of mammal fossils from the Miocene age, plus the James H. Cook Collection of Lakota Artifacts. Enjoy an overview of the area on the more than four miles of trails.
Located at Fort Robinson State Park, a main feature of this stop is the Clash of the Mammoths exhibit, which is a fossil of two mammoths that died with their tusks locked in combat near the museum's current location. There's plenty more here to teach you about western Nebraska's geologic history, too.
The University of Nebraska State Museum of Natural History naturally contains more than enough to satisfy the natural history buff. From collections of giant fossilized elephants to interactive exhibits and displays on animals and people from the ancient past, there's something everyone can enjoy.
One of the most unique geologic attractions you'll find, Toadstool has unusual formations and fossil deposits. Take a loop through the park's trails to get a glimpse into the 30 million-year-old past.
This fascinating paleo-archaeological site holds hundreds of fossilized Bison antiquus in a bonebed that was discovered in 1954. Check out the interpretive trail, too.
(Note: Seasonal hours for the visitor center are limited. Call 308-432-0300 to check availability)
Ash Hollow has been a vital stop for humans for millennia. Long before it was an important spot on the Oregon and California trails, prehistoric people have made the area home. There's a cave on site, now protected with an interpretive center, where artifacts going back thousands of years have been recovered. Check out the visitor center for more exhibits on the fossilized and historical record of Ash Hollow.
A great blanket of volcanic ash hit the Great Plains 12 million years ago, and this bed is the remains of a watering hole where droves of diverse animals were caught and fossilized. Not only can you come and see the animals frozen in time, but you can watch in-progress excavations, as the area is actively being worked today.
(Note: Open seasonally May through early October)
Step into a museum where the rocks, minerals and fossils have helped teach students for more than 100 years. Housed at Chadron State College, the exhibits have everything from hands-on activities to extensive collections. Guests are treated to a deep dive into the geologic history of western Nebraska.