Visiting Waco, Texas and looking for things to do in the Waco Mammoth National Monument?
Located in Waco, Texas this paleontology site is, undoubtedly, one of our favorite places to visit with kids in Texas.
The park was established as a national monument in 2015 by President Barack Obama.
Since then, it has become one of the most visited national parks in Texas and receives thousands of visitors every year.
Here kids can see fossils of Columbian mammoths as well as other animals such as saber-toothed cat, alligator, tortoise, and camel.
Waco Mammoth National Monument is a must visit attraction if you love history and prehistoric creatures!
Here is a detailed guide to visiting the Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas.
Where is the Waco Mammoth National Monument located?
The Waco Mammoth National Monument is located in Central Texas.
The park is about 15 miles away from downtown Waco.
The NPS site is 5 acres large and located along the banks of the Bosque River.
The park is jointly managed by the Waco Mammoth foundation and the National Park Service.
The address is 6220 Steinbeck Bend Dr, Waxco, TX 76708.
You can visit the NPS Site here.
Things to do at the Waco Mammoth National Monument
The finds at the Mammoth site in Waco have historic and paleontological significance.
Fossils of 24 Columbian Mammoths have been uncovered at the site.
This is the only place in America where an entire nursery herd of the Ice Age mammoths have been discovered.
You can see fossil specimens of juvenile Mammoths at the site.
Besides the dig site, the park also has hiking trails, picnic tables, Visitor Center, and other attractions.
Here are our favorite things to do in the National Park.
Tour the dig shelter
The dig shelter of the Waco Mammoth National Monument is, undoubtedly, a fascinating place.
Visitors can explore the dig shelter on a self-guided tour.
Here you can see the excavated fossil specimens still in their original position.
While some parts of the fossils are exposed, others still remain embedded in the fossil bed.
The remains, protected by the climate control environment of the shelter, are amazing to see.
While entry to the park is free, access to the fossil bed is by ticket only.
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Learn about the Columbian mammoths
At the national park site, kids can not only see the mammoth bones and fossils but also learn about the beasts that belong to.
The Columbian Mammoths lived in Texas about 65,000 to 70,000 years ago during the Ice Age or the Pleistocene Epoch.
They were gigantic creatures: the average mammoth was 12 to 14 feet tall and easily weighed about 20000 lbs.
Learn about the discovery of the fossils
The first mammoth fossils were discovered in 1978 by local residents while they were searching for arrowheads on the river banks.
They took a large bone to Baylor University where it was identified as belonging to the now-extinct Columbian mammoth.
Later excavations revealed that the Waco Mammoth Site held over 24 mammoths and other Ice Age animals which had probably died due to flooding.
Kids can learn about the discovery of the Waco mammoths at the Visitor Center or through exhibits on site.
Have kids who love dinosaurs? Read about the Texas Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country where you can see excellently preserved dinosaur tracks.
Or read our post about Best Dinosaur Museums in Texas now!
Understand the mystery behind their death
Scientists have still not been able to figure out how the Waco Mammoth died.
The hypothesis is that the mammoths died due to flash floods.
However, scientists are still determining whether it was a single flood event that killed the entire herd or multiple flood events that occurred over the years and deposited remains all over the top of one another.
Become a Junior Ranger
Kids have the opportunity to become a junior Ranger at the Waco Mammoth National Monument.
You can get the junior Ranger book at the visitor center.
The book is full of activities for kids to complete during their visit at the park.
Kids can complete the activities and take the book back to the park rangers at the visitor center to receive their Junior Ranger badge.
Hike the trails around the National Monument
The national park boundaries and it’s wooded forests are home to several hiking trails of varying difficulty levels.
Visitors can go for a walk on the trails, explore nature, and see wildlife such as deer.
We recommend getting plenty of water, applying sunscreen, and hiking in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat.
See even more specimens at the Mayborn Museum complex
While the remains discovered after 1990 are at the dig shelter, the earliest discovered fossil specimens are at the Mayborn Museum located in Baylor University.
The museum has a detailed Mammoth exhibit as well as interesting videos and interactive screens about the discoveries.
The museum is located near downtown Waco and is a great place to visit for kids.
Explore other attractions in Waco, Texas
Waco is one of our favorite places to visit in Texas for a weekend getaway.
There are many other attractions to check out in the area.
Kids will love the Cameron Park Zoo, Waco Suspension Bridge (one of the longest suspension bridges in the USA), and also the intriguing Texas Ranger Museum.
The famous Magnolia Market at the Silos and iconic Dr. Pepper museums are also located downtown.
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