The Best National Parks & Monuments For Dinosaur Fossils

A blast from the past (literally), these national parks and monuments are where you can catch up with our prehistoric past and visit another era


The National Park Service has a massive checklist of fossil parks, which includes all units where fossils exist– there are more than 250 of them. This consists of fossils “in situ” (in the rocks), in museums and/or in a cultural setting.


You can see, and even discover, dinosaurs as well as various other fossils in a variety of national parks, forests, and monuments, yet the majority of these sites are nationwide monuments.


A lot of these sites were established under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorizes a U.S. president to declare nationwide monuments to protect historic locations of significance, prehistoric structures, and also other items of historic or scientific significance on federal lands.


Almost all major national parks with fossils are in the West. This is mainly a result of the West’s vast open spaces, geological formations, canyons and deserts. The particular characteristics of these landscapes have helped: (1) fossilize prehistoric plants and animals thanks to arid conditions, and (2) expose them again through natural processes of the area like wind as well as water erosion.

10 of The Greatest National Parks and Monuments With Dinosaurs and Other Fossils

Although there are literally thousands of fossil national parks and monuments in the United States, that does not mean they’re all equally as remarkable. When it pertains to dinosaurs and also other fossils, some parks are just better experiences than others.

If you wish to put on your paleontology hat, discover ancient fossils and maybe even look for them yourself, these are the parks that can’t be beat. They’re the best experience that the National Park Service can offer for fossil searching.

Fossil highlights: Miocene Date mammals like Menoceras, Dinohyus and also Daphoenodon

The Agate Springs Cattle ranch was initially owned by James H. Cook, who first found fossils in the nearby hills in the 1880s. He consulted with legendary fossil seekers O.C. Marsh as well as E.D. Cope, who sparked his passion in fossils even more. He also established a decades-long friendship with the Oglala Lakota principal Red Cloud, who used to go to Agate Springs with his friends and family.

For many years, Cook accumulated hundreds of gifts from the Oglala Lakota, including headdresses and also pipes, bows and arrows, Red Cloud’s own shirt and moccasins, and also Crazy Steed’s whetstone. These presents and also other Plains Indians artifacts are currently on display at the James H. Cook Gallery at the visitor center.

In regards to Miocene Epoch fossils, many  prehistoric animals were found in the area. Those consist of bear dogs, rhinoceros, entelodonts, camelids and also land beavers. Replicas of the many skeletal systems are showcased in the visitor center’s diorama, while the national monument’s two trails– the 1.6-mile Daemonelix Route and 2.7-mile Fossil Hills Trail– take adventurers to viewpoints of the “Great Bonebed of Agate”, fossil exhibitions as well as dig sites.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska

Situated in northwestern Nebraska, the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is a both a historic and continental crossroads. It protects Miocene Epoch fossil collections, along with Plains Indians heritage and art, and remnants of the era when explorers travelled through as well as pioneers settled the American West.

In the 1890s, paleontologists uncovered what the Lakota Sioux had known for decades– that there are unbelievably abundant Miocene Epoch mammal fossil sites in these hills and prairie lands. Most of those fossils were found on University and Carnegie Hills, both of which rise dramatically up from the grassy plains of the area.


Agate Fossil Beds National Monument picture credit: NPS
Fossil highlights: Oligocene creatures, including oreodonts, nimravids and also brontotheres, along with mosasaurs

Nowadays, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology still has study programs in the White River Badlands nearly annually. Over the years, numerous major ancient types have been discovered in Badlands National Park, from frightening mosasaurs to oreodonts, nimravids and brontotheres. Among the best excavation sites in this fossil national forest, the Big Pig Dig has yielded an unbelievable 19,000+ fossils.


In addition to breathtaking drives, stargazing, hiking as well as outdoor camping, Badlands National Park offers a stunning insight right into the old world of The United States and Canada. You can also visit the Fossil Preparation Laboratory, where you can view paleontologists working on fossils right in front of you. This is unquestionably one of America’s best national parks with fossils.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

One of America’s best fossil hotspots, the White River Badlands have brought in paleontologists for almost 200 years. And for years before that, the Oglala Lakota people had actually been finding fossilized bones and turtle coverings. Their explorations additionally included fossilized seashells, that made them end that the location must have been underwater at some point– they were the first to recognize this.


Real paleontological passion in the Badlands started in the 1830s, when investors as well as trappers checked out the area. By the mid-19th century, no fewer than 77 of the 84 unique species in The United States and Canada’s fossil record were found in the Badlands. East Shore organizations like Yale University arranged explorations to gather fossils and also reconstruct them in their museums.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota - Picture Credit NPS
Fossil highlights: Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Allosaurus and various other renowned dinosaurs

The monument’s central attraction is the Quarry Display Hall, which protects the original Dinosaur Quarry. Its Wall of Bones, which you can see from up close, includes among the greatest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world, consisting of roughly 1,500 bones of all dinosaurs stated over and also several others. In addition to that, you can also touch these dinosaur bones at numerous places!


Along with dinosaur fossils, Dinosaur National Monument additionally includes various sets of pictographs and also petroglyphs, made by the Fremont people.

Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado And Utah

As its name suggests, Dinosaur National Monument is an amazing place to see dinosaur fossils. Actually, it might just be the absolute ideal dinosaur fossil park in the United States. Located on the border of Colorado and Utah, just over 200 miles east of Salt Lake City, where the Yampa and Green Rivers intersect, this spectacular national monument includes river beds, breathtaking canyons as well as desert plains.


It was produced in 1915 specifically to shield the world-famous Dinosaur Quarry, and later broadened to maintain the area’s phenomenal landscapes and natural history resources. There more than 800 paleontological sites across the monument, which have actually produced an amazing wealth of fossils. This includes such well-known dinosaurs as Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Camarasaurus, Dryosaurus and also Allosaurus.

Dinosaur National Monument picture credit: NPS