My youngest son has a strong desire to earn as many Jr. Ranger badges as he can. So, I decided to take him to the Waco Mammoth National Monument for a quick day trip when I learned that they participate in the Jr. Ranger Program there. Waco is about two hours south of Dallas, so I knew this location wouldn’t be too far for us to explore on our own together.
We ended up having a really fun time and he earned that badge! It was fascinating to learn about Colombian Mammoths and even cooler to discover that they roamed right here in TX thousands of years ago. If you are in the area or looking for a quick day trip from the Dallas, Austin, or San Antonio area, then I highly recommend checking this place out!
Did you know that Colombian Mammoths were actually larger than the Woolly Mammoths? I didn’t, until we visited the Waco Mammoth excavation site! This site is actually really amazing! Not only is it the first and only recorded nursery herd of ice age Colombian Mammoths in the country, you get the opportunity to visit the actual dig site around these fossils! Most of the time the fossils that are found are taken from the ground and then reassembled and put on display at a museum. Here, the “museum” is the actual site where these giants were found!
It is believed that this group of mammoths were in the creek bed when a flash flood occurred. The mud in the creek became too much for the mammoths to escape and they all perished right there. They were first discovered in 1978 by two men that were exploring the Bosque River looking for arrowheads. From 1978-1990, 16 mammoths were discovered here. These fossils are now on display at Baylor University in Waco. All of the fossils uncovered since 1990 have been left at this site. Several other ice age animals were also discovered here. In 2015, President Obama declared this site as part of the National Park Service.
- Park Information
- Website: Waco Mammoth National Monument
- Address: 6220 Steinbeck Bend Dr, Waco, TX 76708
- Phone Number: (254) 750-7946
- Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily
- Pricing: Adults is $6 and children $5
We enjoyed the grounds, there is a nice walking trail to the excavation site and lucky for us, the weather was gorgeous. There is also a small sand box area near the Visitor Center that kids can dig for their own fossils. And when we visited, there was a tent outside of the Visitor Center with different fossils and animal bones to explore. I’m not sure if this is always here or something special for the weekend. Since Jake participated in the Jr. Ranger program, he had to complete 5 activities from the Jr. Ranger booklet while we were there. He really liked looking at the fossils while completing the scavenger hunt!
On our visit, there were only self-guided tours available. Upon arriving, we received tickets to the excavation site with a barcode to scan and learn more about the site and the fossils. Overall, we only spent about an hour and half at the Waco Mammoth National Monument. We made the two hour drive and stopped for a quick lunch. Then we went to the Mammoth site and drove back home. We spent about a total of six hours on our day trip. There are other awesome activities to explore in Waco, I am linking a list here! I hope you get the chance to visit this great little town right in the heart of Texas soon!