International Information Discover America

Home > Outdoors > Archaeology and Paleontology > Paleontology

Archaeology and Paleontology


Badlands National Park

Located off of Interstate 90 at Exit 131

PaleontologyFor more than 150 years, the area in and around Badlands National Park has been an important center for paleontological research. Some of the most spectacular fossil accumulations in North America were found in this area. The rocks and fossils preserve evidence of ancient ecosystems and give scientists clues about how early mammal species lived.

View fossil specimens at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center at Cedar Pass and hike the Fossil Exhibit Trail, which features fossil replicas and exhibits of now extinct creatures that once roamed the area. Visitors are encouraged to attend daily ranger programs, which are offered May 29-September 10, 2012. Fossil Talks and Junior Ranger programs are especially popular for families with children. Learn about the saber-tooth cat skull discovered in the summer of 2010 by a seven-year-old girl who was participating in a Junior Ranger Program. On June 4, 2012, the Saber Site, a new interpretive fossil quarry and fossil preparation lab, opened next to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Quarry and lab hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week until August 24, 2012.

Park entrance fee is required. Contact Badlands National Park at 605-433-5261 or visit


Dig for Dinos on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation

Located in Fort Yates, ND (1341 92nd Street)

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in northern South Dakota offers dinosaur digs during the month of July. Join their paleontology staff and learn how dinosaurs once roamed this area and left traces behind in the Hell Creek Formation. Learn how to search for and identify fossils and prepare them for transport during this exciting summer program. All ages are welcome.

Admission is charged: $100/day for adults, $24/day for children under 12. Contact the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at 701-854-8648 or visit


The Mammoth Site

Located in Hot Springs (1800 U.S. 18 Bypass)

PaleontologyThe simple act of getting a drink of water led to the deaths of hundreds of animals 26,000 years ago at what is now The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. After they entered the spring-fed sinkhole to drink and bathe, the mammoths were unable to climb back up the slippery banks; they became trapped, ultimately starving to death. Since 1974, 59 Columbian and woolly mammoths have been unearthed, making this the first site where both species have been found together. Eighty-two species of ice age animals have been discovered, including camel, llama, giant shortfaced bear, wolf, coyote and prairie dog.

Visitors may tour the working dig and Ice Age exhibit in Hot Springs year-round. The Earthwatch Institute sponsors an excavation at The Mammoth Site each year during July. Road Scholars will also be excavating at The Mammoth Site in May and September.

The Mammoth Site offers the Junior Paleontologist Program four times a day from June 1-July 31 and once a day from August 1-15. This simulated dig allows participants to dig for replicas of actual bones found at the site. Merit badges in geology for Boy and Girl Scouts are offered. Advanced prepaid registration is required. In addition, the Advanced Paleontologist Program will be offered once a day from June 1-July 31 and the Atlatl Throwing Experience will be offered once a day from June 1-August 15.

Admission is charged. Contact The Mammoth Site at 605-745-6017 or visit