Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

In A Nutshell

Operating Hours & Seasons

Visitor Center and Museum
Summer Season* - 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Off Season - 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Closed Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving.

Trails
Open from dawn until dusk year-round.

*Summer Season is Memorial Day through Labor Day

Fees & Reservations

 

- Individual - $3.00
(Valid for seven days, children under 16 free)
- Vehicle - $5.00
(Valid for seven days)
- Annual Park Pass - $15.00
(Valid for one year at Ft. Laramie, Scotts Bluff, and Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.)

Also sold, issued, and accepted:

  • Interagency Annual Pass

The $80 Interagency Annual Pass provides entrance or access to pass holder and accompanying passengers in a single, private non-commercial vehicle at most federal recreation sites across the country. Pass is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. The pass is not valid for Expanded Amenity fees.

  • Interagency Senior Pass

The $10 Interagency Senior Pass (62 and older) is a lifetime pass available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Pass is available only in-person at entrances or visitor centers.

  • Interagency Access Pass

Free lifetime pass available to citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. who have been determined to be blind or permanently disabled. Pass is available only in-person at entrances or visitor centers.

The above passes replace the National Parks Pass, Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access Passports. These passes will remain valid until they expire or are lost or stolen.

Agate Fossil Beds In a Nutshell

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is nestled in the Niobrara River Valley in Nebraska 65 miles [110 km] east-southeast of its headwaters in the Hat Creek Breaks of Wyoming. The park preserves a unique unglaciated area of the High Plains. Wetlands stretch out from the river and meet terraces that lead to the breaks and buttes. The buttes contain important information about the life of mammals in the Miocene Era, some 20 million years ago.
 
During the Miocene the land now known as Agate was a grass savanna comparable to today’s Serengeti Plains in Africa. Twenty million years ago animals such as the Dinohyus (giant pig-like animal), Stenomylus (small gazelle-camel), and Menoceras (short rhinoceros) roamed the plains. There were also carnivorous beardogs wandering around, and the land beaver Paleocastor dug spiral burrows that remain as today’s trace fossils (Daemonelix) into the ancient riverbanks. There are remnants of the ancient grasses and hoofprints of prehistoric animals in Miocene sediments preserved in the park, as well as layers of fossilized bones.
 
The park was created to preserve the rich fossil deposits and their geological contexts amidst today’s natural ecosystem. Numerous mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds inhabit or pass through the park, undisturbed and protected. Many species of native grasses and shrubs grow across the park’s landscape, as well as some undesirable non-native plants (e.g., Canada thistle) that the park does its best to control. Use the links to the left to learn more about the geology, plants, animals, climate, and environment at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.