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“Annals of a Former World”

Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Royal
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This archeological site, revealing prehistoric fossils, is a subdivision of the University of Nebraska State Museum
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

So, you think that Nebraska is a pass-through state? Think again.

Nebraska, 12 million years ago, was the American Serengeti, where many of the animals that we associate with other continents evolved. Here you get a snapshot, frozen in time, a death assemblage of animals mortally injured from the silica ash of a western volcanic eruption and then fossilized in place. The Rhino barn is a jaw-dropping display of animals left as they were uncovered.

But, as one peruses the skeletons and the exhibits more and more an interesting picture emerges of herd animals congregating around a watering hole. Today horses are represented by only 2 species, but back then Ashfall contains 5 species of 3-toed and 1-toed horses. Their lineage was very "bushy" only to be pared down over time. There is much more at Ashfall to challenge your imagination.

This is my second stop here and it still fills me with wonder.

Thank Gerald W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"rhino barn"
in 19 reviews
"million years"
in 14 reviews
"dig site"
in 10 reviews
"watering hole"
in 4 reviews
"volcanic ash"
in 10 reviews
"visitor center"
in 8 reviews
"educational displays"
in 2 reviews
"amazing things"
in 2 reviews
"answer questions"
in 5 reviews
"educational experience"
in 3 reviews
"hour drive"
in 4 reviews
"extinct animals"
in 2 reviews
"university of nebraska"
in 4 reviews
"large building"
in 2 reviews
"great information"
in 2 reviews
"picnic area"
in 2 reviews
"welcome center"
in 2 reviews
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1 - 5 of 116 reviews

Reviewed 15 September 2018

What a terrific experience! After paying the entry fees ...we toured the building and saw several skeletons of various animals, saw the history of the site, and then walked to the actual dig location. Housed inside a very large structure, the dig was explained to us by Cienna - an intern from Ithaca College (in NY). She explained the process of uncovering the skeletal remains and answered all our questions. She let us touch a sample of the volcanic ash (Even finer that talc!). She told us whoever first finds a new skeleton gets to name it - so Scully and Mulder are there among many others! The dig is mesmerizing, fascinating, and educational. So very worth a stop and a donation.

Thank Gary H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 August 2018

I was in Nebraska providing the support vehicle for my sister who bicycled the Cowboy Trail from Valentine to Norfolk. While she rode, I toured Nebraska. I got into this area where I wasn't finding much to do, so on a whim I went to Ashfall Fossil Beds SHP. I'm not into dinosaurs or geology or fossils or anything related to those things, so I knew this wouldn't be a top hit on my tour.

I was wrong.

12 million years ago a super volcano spread ash over the land. It's a long story about animals ingesting volcanic glass while they foraged for food, but it is believed they ended up in the waterhole where they died. There they laid for 12 million years - 12 MILLION YEARS! - that's insane - until they were recently discovered. The "rhino barn" is a live dig site. They are unearthing many rhinos and 3-toes horses in this one particular area. It's incredible! For the first time ever, I get it. I understand 12 million years ago because I stood right there and witnessed it. I watched a college student delicately brush away the ash with a paintbrush.

This place is amazing and every one should see it at least once.

On a side note, I bought some merchandise from the gift shop because I wanted to support the facility. I bought a particular children's book for my grandbaby, and the lady at the register shared a personal story about what that children's book means to her. She's a lovely lady with a wonderful story, and it was the icing on the cake for my adventure to Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park.

By the way, it's out in the middle of nowhere. Apparently 12 millions years ago they didn't know that would be an inconvenient place for future visitors! :)

1  Thank Seahawkfan12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 August 2018

The displays and watching people work on uncovering fossils was so interesting. You could talk to them about their work. It is a very neat place to go and visit. The main area being worked on has a building over it so weather is not a factor.

1  Thank brideforlife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 22 August 2018

Well things do change in 20 years! The Nebraska State Historical Society has done an excellent job of expanding and upgrading this site. 20 years ago, the building over the site was open air and perhaps a quarter of its present size and the visitor center was in a trailer, I believe. It is still off the beaten path ... The staff at the visitor center was very pleasant. I did not remember having an admission fee before, but $7.00 was well worth it. The two interns doing the intrepeting, and digging, at the site were both knowledgeable and very conversational. My wife and I enjoyed talking with them. I can imagine their surprise at ending up in the Sandhills of Nebraska from Massachusetts and Kentucky respectively!

Thank Traveller68845
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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