Basic Facts About The Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

A US national monument situated in northwestern Nebraska, the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument protects a massive amount of well-preserved Miocene fossils. The area is also composed of grassy plains and a valley of the Niobrara River.

History 

In the 1890s, scientists discovered the incredibly-well preserved bones of Miocene Epoch mammals, making the Agate Fossil Beds one of the most significant sites of its kind. The High Plains were once home to these ancient mammals and tribal nations like the Lakota Sioux before becoming inhabited by settlers moving west across America. The fossils found here date back to 20 to 16.3 million years ago, and are some of the best examples of Miocene mammals in existence today.

The site’s Agate Springs Ranch was originally owned by Captain James Cook, and is currently a working cattle ranch. The Agate Fossil Beds National Monument includes a museum that houses many artifacts from the Plains Indians. The national monument was officially established in 1997.

Landscape

The main features of the park include the grassy plains, the Niobrara River valley, and the Carnegie Hill and University Hill fossils. There are a variety of plants and wildflowers found on the plains, some of which include prairie sandreed, blue grama, little bluestem, sunflowers, and western wallflowers.

Getting to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

An American National Monument situated in northwestern Nebraska, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument protects grassy plains, the Niobrara River valley, and a vast amount of Miocene fossils. You have a couple of options for how to get to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. 

The monument is located just outside of Harrison, the county’s only town. The best way to reach Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is by car, by way of either Interstate 80, 90, or 25, though your route will also connect to state highways and country roads. 

There is no public transportation in or around the monument, so it’s essential to have your own transportation.

The nearest airport to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is 50 miles south of the park at Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. From there you will need to access the monument by car.