If your kids are tired of the same old historical sites – homes, battlefields, etc. – check out some of your area’s natural history sites. Here in Virginia, we can even look for fossils at several of our state parks! When you’re traveling in the west, a site not to be missed is Fossil Butte National Monument – “America’s Aquarium in Stone.”
Fossil Butte National Monument sits on the floor bed of the prehistoric Fossil Lake. Some of the world’s best fossils have been found here, from fish to mammals to reptiles. These fossils date to the Eocene period, which occurred about 56 to 33.9 million years ago, and were discovered in the 19th century by coal miners.
Fossil Butte National Monument is in the remote southwest of Wyoming. It makes a great pit stop, however, if you’re driving from Jackson Hole to Salt Lake City, which is how we stumbled upon it!
There is a visitor center at the park, which has an ecological timeline leading up to it – the Journey Through Time exhibit. It was fun to read these factoids, set to scale, to imagine the vastness of time!
Once inside the small visitor center, your kids will be drawn to the most famous fossil here – the Crocodilian Case. It even includes crocodile poop!
The visitor center has hundreds of fossils on display – from fish to turtles to mammals. My kids loved wandering through.
Their favorite part was the hands-on fossil rubbing activity and getting their Junior Ranger stamps.
Be sure to take in the views from the visitor center overlook – they are quite impressive!
There are over 4 miles of hiking trails available for the hearty – it gets very hot and dry here in the summer so be forewarned!
Kids may get bored of touring historic homes or marching around a battlefield so shake up your history adventures and check out some of the natural history sites near you. From natural history museums to sites like Fossil Butte National Monument, you can find an aspect of history that everyone likes!!
- Cost: Free
- Recommended: all ages
- Tour time: 30-45 minutes
- Gift shop located onsite
- Transportation: You must have a car to access the site. Travel time from Jackson Hole is 3 hours; Salt Lake City is a little over 2 hours.
- Dining options: The national monument is in a remote part of Wyoming. Pack a picnic! There are several restaurants in nearby Kemmerer.
- Nearby hotels: There are several chain hotels in nearby Kemmerer.
- Nearby attractions: Ulrich’s Fossil Gallery, Fossil Country Frontier Museum, Bear Lakes State Park, and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
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