Visit Mammoth National Monument in Waco, Texas
If you have exhausted all of the Austin-area dinosaur sites, fear not. Texas is full of little gems and Waco’s mammoth site is no exception. The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a national park located in Central Texas – North of Austin and South of Dallas. A very easy short drive from Austin. Waco Mammoth National Monument is the 408th unit of the National Park Service and 14th unit in Texas. The national park features fossils of female mammoths, a bull mammoth, and an ancient relative of camels, an antelope, an alligator, and a giant tortoise.
Currently, there are no guided tours – but they may continue the guided tours in the summertime. Their website indicates that the guided walking tours would be approximately every 30 minutes. The Waco Mammoth National Monument now includes a breathtaking dig shelter that is atmosphere controlled.
You can be here for perhaps a little over an hour and see it all. The Mammoth shelter is a very short walk from the welcome center where you get your tickets. The cost to enter the park is pretty reasonable and well worth it. The guides are very friendly and happy to answer any questions you have.
Walking Trail in Mammoth National Monument – Waco
The Waco Mammoth National Monument sits within 100 acres of wooded parkland along the Bosque River and provides a glimpse into the lives and habitat of Columbian mammoths and other Ice Age animals.
The trail is primarily used for walking and is accessible year-round. The handy little map they provide looks very long – but if you do the entire loop it is probably a little bit over a mile. This is completely doable if you have kids walking the trails with you. The trail encourages you to find various animals like butterflies or lizards and vegetation. If you are lucky you may see an armadillo or woodpecker. When you buy the tickets to the park – there is a kid’s workbook. In the workbook, there are several pages dedicated to the nature trail.
We had fun completing some of the pages. Make sure to get this handbook since it is educational and fun for the kids! When you complete approx 7 pages of the kid’s handbook you can hand it in at the visitor’s station for a reward – I will let it be a surprise. My kiddo was super excited about the reward and has it in her room on display. The trail runs from the welcome center to the Mammoth shelter. The trail is very rustic – if you need assistance or in a wheelchair – I would not encourage you to attempt to go on the trails.
These trails are used for group tours. Do not bring food with you – there will not be a place to rest and feast on your snacks. Dogs are not permitted in the park.
Why Protect Mammoth Fossils
Mammoths, along with many other Ice Age animals known as “megafauna,” became extinct in North America about 10,000 years ago.
These included saber-toothed cats, lions, cheetahs, camels, horses, giant bison, giant sloths, giant tortoises, short-faced bears, and giant armadillos. Scientists haven’t yet determined the cause for this extinction. Two factors may have been critical: the climate was changing, and humans were beginning to populate North America.
From dinosaur fossils to Columbian mammoth remains, 18 National Park Service units exist to protect and preserve our fossil resources. Protecting fossils like these Mammoth fossils give archologists and scientist a chance to study these animals in their natural state. The most common fossils found here are male Columbian mammoths.
How will you pass on the stories these sites reveal to future generations?
Archeologist are continued to learn about mammoths
The Waco mammoths are the only known Columbian mammoth nursery herd in North America, and it is located within an unusual site of multiple flooding and death events. With such a long and complex history of events that happened here, this site has the potential to teach us much more about the past. This important archaeological find containing the remains of twenty-five Columbian mammoths lies just on the outskirts of the city of Waco.
There are many hypothetical or hypotheses on why these mammoths in Waco died together. Since the Mammoths were found near water the thought is that these mammoths got trapped in a deep pond during the Ice Ages. They came to the pond to drink water and bathe, but could not leave the pond because the walls of the pond were too steep to climb.
What are Mammoths
Standing as tall as 14 feet and weighing 20,000 pounds, Columbian mammoths roamed across what is present-day Texas thousands of years ago.
- Hours: Park: Mon – Sun 9am -5pm
- Fossil Site: Fri-Sun 9am-5pm
- Address: 6220 Steinbeck Bend Rd Waco, TX 76708
- Website: wacomammoth.org