A day trip, that’s what we were looking for.
Something close to Killeen, that wouldn’t take a long time to get to, could keep the kids busy and entertained for the day, and with a little luck have us leaving with the children repeating “best day ever” a hundred times on the ride home, and we found just that at the Waco Mammoth National Monument.
The Waco Mammoth National Monument is nestled within a 100 acre parkland of oaks, cedar and mesquite trees along the Bosque river. The mammoths were initially discovered by Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin while out looking for arrowheads. While searching they came across a large bone sticking out of the ground, dig it up and took it to, what was then, the Baylor University’s Strecker Museum where the staff identified the bone as a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) an extinct species of mammoth that lived during the Ice Age.
Walking In to the monument to pay for entrance, the kids spotted a giant sand pit with bones buried inside, they all instantly became learned archeologists. Digging around the pit they were able to find bones both large and small. They were immediately hooked.
Though I didn’t ask, I think we were there during a special event, rangers had tables with games, coloring books, and fossils set out for guests to touch and play with and after getting completely covered in dirt and petting the saber tooth tiger skull a few times our gang was ready to move down the trail to the main event, mammoths!
Columbian mammoths stood nearly 14 feet tall and weighed nearly 20,000 pounds, and roamed from southern Canada down to Costa Rico. The fossils in Waco represent the nation’s first and only recorded evidence of a nursery herd of ice age Columbian mammoths.
Our kids were in awe standing next to the painting of the mammoth in the exhibit hall. Their inner scientist bursting from the seams with their mouths running at full speed asking questions about mammoths, their bones, their babies, what they ate, how they died, were they nice, and on and on and on….Though you can only look at the fossils from above, the guides are very knowledgeable and well spoken able able to explain what happened to the herd to cause it to die in that location and eventually fossilize.
In 2015, President Barack Obama signed an executive order finally establishing the Waco Mammoth National Monument and adding it to the National Parks System. Our parks are national treasures and wonderful places to visit to spend time with the family, show them your support as often as you can so we can ensure they are here for future generations.
For park hours, to see upcoming events, volunteer or just learn a little more about our local historic site visit the Waco National Monument website page, and make sure to book your day trip to see these fantastic beasts.
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