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Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park

  • Hiking
  • Picnicking
Park video tour

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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. Admission is charged in addition to the Park Entry Permit.

Attractions

Visitor Center

The Visitor Center features interpretive displays and the working fossil preparation laboratory. Park visitors are invited to ask paleontologists working in the laboratory about their work. Educational programs are presented on regular basis. The Visitor Center is open May 1 up to Memorial Day weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday; and after a Labor Day through the second weekend in October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. School groups make special arrangements to visit Ashfall between April 1 and Oct. 20 by calling the park office at 402-893-2000.

Rhino Barn

This structure 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.

Other activities

The park offers a mile-long hiking trail, as well as 12 picnic tables and a covered picnic shelter. Additionally, camping, picnicking and fishing are available at nearby Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Contact Information

Address: Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park | 86930 517th Ave. | Royal, Neb. 68773-5052
Phone: (402) 893-2000

Email: Send email