1800 Highway 18 Byp
Hot Springs, SD 57747+9604
Mammoth Site Description
Enclosed and surrounded by exhibits, it is easy to forget that the Mammoth Site is a rich and active paleontological dig. More than 26,000 years ago, large Columbian and woolly mammoths were trapped and in a sinkhole and died here. During the tours, you can watch the fossils being uncovered, and if you plan well in advance your kids (ages 4-13) can excavate a replica site and learn to identify mammoth and giant short-faced bear fossils in the Junior Paleontologists program.
Science & Nature Museum
Toddlers & Pre-K: The smallest kids may be bored here, but 4 or 5 year olds discovering dinosaurs may really enjoy the site, and all the hands-on exhibits (like the hut made of Mammoth bones). While the Junior Paleontology program may sound too advanced for 4 or 5 years old, the staff is great with little kids and digging in the dirt for replica bones a treasure hunt for preschoolers.
School-Age Kids: Lots of hands-on activities in the museum section, bones to handle, the hut made out of mammoth bones, and a look at real mammoth bones as they lay (and being excavated) fascinates most kids.
Pre-Teens & Teens: Pre-teen and teens with an interest in paleontology or archaeology will get a kick out of the Mammoth site; they can also go down to the lab and watch people working with actual bones uncovered.
- Call ahead. You'll need to if you want to get a spot in the popular Junior Paleontologist program.
- No food allowed. Bring a picnic lunch to eat before or after your tour, or plan on eating in Hot Springs.
- Bring a swimsuit. The nearby Evans Plunge Pool is the world's largest indoor natural warm-spring pool, complete with water slides and other playthings. It's worth a visit if you have time.
- Plot a course. If your kids are really into paleontology -- or GPS systems -- pick up the "Yearn to Learn" booklet at the bookstore. It's a GPS log for sites of interest along Hwy 71 between the Mammoth Site and the Hudson Meng Bison Kill Site in Nebraska. You can even rent a GPS device at one and return it at the other.
Just the Facts
Hours: Open year round with 30-minute guided tours. May 15 - August 15: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., with last tour at 7 p.m. August 16 - Labor Day: 8 a.m.-6 p.m., with last tour at 5 p.m. After Labor Day - October 31: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with last tour at 4 p.m. November 1- February 28: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with last tour at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with last tour at 2:30 p.m. March 1 - May 14: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., with last tour at 4 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Easter Sunday. The Junior Paleontologists programs run June 1 through August 15th. During June and July, they start at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and last approximately one hour. In August, the program starts at 2 p.m. Advance reservations are required; it sometimes gets booked-up months in advance.
Fees: Under $10
Recommended Time: 1 to 2 hours