Have you ever wondered what it might be like to hike among mammoths, saber-toothed tigers and giant sloths? Me neither. Although I did consider it after visiting the Waco Mammoth National Monument. 42 years ago, two men found a bone near the Bosque River in Waco, Texas. This discovery brought the history of these prehistoric animals to life and a dig shelter with it. Today, you can explore this dig site and walk through the remains of mammoths in Texas.
How to Get to Waco Mammoth National Monument
Hours of operation: Open daily from 9am – 5pm
Fees: Tours are $5 for adults, and $3 for children
Technically, this is a national park, but the City of Waco, Baylor University, Waco Mammoth Foundation, and the National Park Service operate it in a group effort. The entrance to the park is a few miles west of I-35, along Steinbeck Bend Drive. This road is MLK Jr Blvd near the highway. The dig site is between Steinbeck Bend and the Bosque River, a short walk from the paved parking lot.
Things to Do at the Mammoth Site
- Visit the gift shop
- Hike with your dog
- Have a picnic
- Join a guided tour
There are only a few things to do here, but the mammoth site is the main attraction. In addition to the dig shelter tour, you can also visit the gift shop, hike the short nature trails, or relax at a picnic table. At the gift shop you will find toys, games and souvenirs – mostly kids stuff. This is also where you will purchase tour tickets to access the dig shelter. The tickets are glossy and will serve as nice bookmarks if you read.
There are four short hiking trails inside the park: Honey Locust, Eagle, Camel, and Deer Loop. These trails are dog friendly, but they will not allow dogs inside the buildings, unless you have a service dog. A group picnic area is located along the paved trail leading to the dig shelter. Getting lost in this park is not likely, but a park map is available just in case.
The Mammoth Dig Shelter
The dig shelter is quite small, considering the remains of 22 mammoths and several other animals have been found. The history is unclear, but a herd of mammoths may have died in a single natural event, such as a flood. In 1978, two men stumbled upon a femur bone in Waco. The femur is the largest bone in our bodies, but it’s simply the longest limb bone in a mammoth. Mammoth tusks, on the other hand, have been measured up to 16 feet in length!
Inside the dig shelter you will follow a raised steel walkway through the resting place of these mammoths. Most of the bones have been excavated long ago and taken to Baylor University. However, some adult and juvenile bones remain. The tour is quick, but exciting. It would be much more exciting to get down in the dirt, but this is not possible inside the shelter.
There are a few displays along the walkway, and some colorful artwork on the walls revealing what life was like long ago. You enter through the front, make a quarter turn and exit through the side of the building. Don’t drop anything below the walkway because they say it will be lost forever. Although, I did not see any lost objects down there.
Hike the trails at Waco Mammoth National Monument, witness the bones of those gigantic creatures who came long before us, and wonder. There are many things to do in Waco, Texas, and this is one of the most unique.
I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it.
We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site.
Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly. I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.