Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park

Quick Facts

Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park

Nebraska

(402) 893-2000

Map Directions

Things To Do

     

Overview

Nearly 12 million years ago, volcanic ash engulfed this ancient watering hole, entombing innumerable animals. National Geographic has called it the Pompeii of prehistoric animals. Because of its scientific importance, the 360-acre historical park between Orchard and Royal was acquired in 1987 and is a joint project of the Game and Parks Commission and the University of Nebraska State Museum. See paleontologists "dig" the site and prepare fossils unearthed. Interpretive facilities, include a visitor center and rhino barn. Your first stop should be the Visitor Center to see the interpretive displays and the working fossil preparation laboratory. You are invited to ask the paleontologists about their work. Educational programs are presented on regular basis. From the Visitor Center, it is but a short stroll to the Rhino Barn, where new discoveries continue to be unearthed.

The park offers a fascinating and educational experience for the entire family and a chance to step back in time to see what Nebraska wildlife was like long before modern man ventured onto the Great Plains.

Visitors are invited to watch the ongoing excavation of this unique "time capsule." A 2,000 square foot "Rhino Barn" protects part of the deposit, where skeletons are uncovered and displayed exactly where they are found. Walkways give visitors a close-up view as paleontologists carefully brush away the volcanic ash from the massive skulls of native American rhinos and the delicate side hooves of tiny ancestral horses.

Campers can use nearby Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area near Royal.

Map of Ashfall Fossil Beds (NE)

Latitude, Longitude: 42.422939, -98.157801

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Activities

  • Hiking

    Visitors can explore the park's nature trails and interpret the geology as well as the flora and fauna of the area.

  • Historic Sites

    The park offers a fascinating and educational experience for the entire family a chance to step back in time and see what Nebraska wildlife was like long before modern man ventured onto the Great Plains. Visitors are invited to watch the ongoing excavation of this unique "time capsule." A 2,000 square foot "Rhino Barn" protects part of the deposit, where skeletons are uncovered and displayed exactly where they are found. Walkways give visitors a close-up view as paleontologists carefully brush away the volcanic ash from the massive skulls of native American rhinos and the delicate side hooves of tiny ancestral horses.

  • Picnicking

    Picnicking is available at Grove Lake WMA near Royal.

Seasonality/Weather

The park is typically open from May through mid-October. Call before your visit for current opening schedule.

Directions

Driving

Located 6 miles north of U.S. 20 between Royal and Orchard in northern Antelope County.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(402) 893-2000

Links