In 1978, a couple of teenage boys looking for arrowheads near a creek in Waco stumbled upon some fossilized bones, bones that would later prove to be the first and only site of a “nursery herd,” the largest known concentration of 24 Columbian mammoths to be discovered on the planet.
Here at the Waco Mammoth National Monument, visitors can see a real-life dig site as paleontologists have left it, with layers of rock, dirt and remains – and plenty of questions for visitors to ponder, like how the mammoths died here. “This is not so much a dig area as it is a crime scene,” one ranger told us on a guided tour. “What y’all are visiting right now is an evolving park – the story has not been written yet.”
The site received National Park Service designation in 2015, which for families means it participates in the Junior Ranger program. Ask at the visitors’ center for your activity guide, which will allow your child to earn a badge.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; guided one-hour tours are available for a fee ($5 for adults; $3 for children aged pre-K through 6th grade; $4 for seniors, military, educators and students; free for children 3 and under).
Things to Know
There’s a short 10- to 15-minute walk to the dig shelter on gravely terrain, but wheelchair accommodations are available.
There are no restaurant facilities on the premises, but visitors can bring their own food for a picnic (there are several tables and benches), and there are some drink vending machines available.