Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Located on the Niobrara River in northwestern Nebraska, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and its surrounding prairie are preserved in a 3,000 acre national monument. Once part of Captain James Cook's Agate Springs Ranch, the nearby beds were an important source for 20 million year-old Miocene-era mammal fossils. Guided walks to the fossil hills are conducted by Park Rangers. Information on guided walks is available at the visitor center.
There are two trails in the monument. The Fossil Hills Trail takes visitors to Carnegie and University Hills where most of the fossils were quarried. The 2.0 mile round trip trail leads hikers from the visitor center, across the Niobrara River, and to the fossil sites. The Daemonelix Trail (1.0 mile round trip) leads from a traffic pullout near the west entrance to the monument through nearby fossil hills.
The visitor center currently contains a bookstore, operated by the Oregon Trail Museum Association, and two rooms of temporary fossil and history exhibits. Permanent exhibits are in the process of being designed and constructed. There is also a 15-minute slide program on Agate Fossil Beds and Captain James Cook.
Visitation is highest during the summer months, June - August; lowest in January. The monument is open daily, year-round: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; closed December 25. There is no admission fee. Virtually all of the facilities at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument are wheelchair accessible. Bus and RV parking is available. Allow one to two hours for your visit.
Weather in the monument is generally sunny and dry in the summer. Windy and cold in winter. Wear comfortable clothing appropriate to season. Hats are useful against exposure to sun. Good walking shoes are recommended for use on hiking trails.
There is no lodging or camping available in the park. The nearest motel and RV camping facilities are available in Harrison, Nebraska, 20 miles to the north. Two restaurants and a grocery store in Harrison, Nebraska
Reservations for school/education groups, as well as tour buses should be made at least two weeks in advance so that necessary arrangements can be made.
To reach the monument, exit Highway 26, at Mitchell, Nebraska, drive 35 miles north on Highway 29. Follow National Park Service signs.
Nearby Towns and Attractions
Nearby the monument is Fort Robinson, 45 miles to the northeast. This former military post is now maintained by the State of Nebraska. A history and natural history museum, many of the old buildings and the original parade ground, are still in place.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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