Waco Mammoth National Monument for Ice Age Discoveries & Fun

family sits together amongst the forest

We rarely get the chance to peek into the past, but Waco Mammoth National Monument gives all visitors a glimpse into life during the Ice Age – how cool is that! The site of a large Columbian mammoth fossil discovery, this incredible National Park is the perfect place for an easy hike and some Texas wildlife. Read on to find out a little more about this beautiful and exciting area right in our backyard!

About Waco Mammoth National Monument

Waco Mammoth National Monument is an incredible way to explore the ancient natural history of our planet. Though it has only been a unit of the National Park System since 2015, when President Barack Obama established it as the Waco Mammoth National Monument, the history of this incredible place goes back thousands and thousands of years. 

In 1978, two explorers were searching for arrowheads and fossils near the Bosque River and found a large bone sticking out of a ravine. They took the bone to Baylor University’s Strecker Museum for the staff to examine. The museum identified the discovery as a femur bone from a Columbian Mammoth. They then quickly organized a team of volunteer excavators and began slowly uncovering an undiscovered world. 

Between 1978 and 1990, crews discovered the fossil remains of 16 Columbian mammoths, who appear to have died together in one natural event. They also found remains of a Western camel, dwarf antelope, American alligator, giant tortoise, and the tooth of a saber-toothed cat. 

These discoveries led scientists to uncover information like the fossils’ age, what the animals ate, and the circumstances under which they were trapped and buried. Recent research has indicated that the mammoths were caught in a flash flood between 65,000 and 72,000 years ago!

Today, the mission of the Waco Mammoth National Monument is to protect the area where they found the Columbian mammoths. They contain the nation’s only recorded discovery of a nursery herd (including offspring and females). 

Today, Waco Mammoth is one of over 400 National Park Service units that help to protect our nation’s natural and cultural heritage. 

Teenager leans over back of a park bench in red dress Waco Mammoth National Monument

Make Your Own Discoveries On the Nature Paths!

Waco Mammoth National Monument sits within 100 acres of wooded parkland along the Bosque River. It is home to ancient forests of oak, mesquite, and cedar trees. The unique environment allows visitors to escape the business of our modern world and look into the lives and habitats of Ice Age animals. 

Back when the Columbian mammoths roamed the earth, this area of the country was not particularly cold (misleading from its Ice Age era title). It was home to numerous species like roadrunners, raccoons, saber-toothed cats, and camels. Walking along Waco Mammoth’s hiking paths is like stepping back in time. 

The paths are accessible, guiding visitors towards natural treasures such as a Texas Live Oak Tree as old as America’s constitution. The trails also provide peeks at some of our modern-day native wildlife. Remember to have plenty of water and sunscreen for your hike!  

family stands and leans amongst some trees Waco Mammoth National Monument


If you plan to explore Waco Mammoth National Monument with kids, check out their Junior Ranger program! Junior Rangers help to preserve National Parks by:

  • learning about the park itself,
  • having fun, and
  • representing knowledge about Waco Mammoth National Monument to friends and family back home.

They are advocates for protecting the environment and help to educate others on how to use good environmental practices. 

Stop by the welcome center when you visit the park and request a free book. Complete all of the activities in the book and return it to have it checked. You will be sworn in as a Waco Mammoth National Junior Ranger and receive your official badge! 

Waco Mammoth National Monument

Now that you’ve read a little more about Waco Mammoth National Monument, it’s time to plan your visit! Head over to their website for information about their hours, welcome center, and policies. You’ll be glad you visited and took advantage of this unique, historic location. 

For more Waco area family content, check out the links below! Then, let’s get your next family session scheduled!

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