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Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park

86930 517th Ave

About 12 million years ago, a volcano in southwest Idaho spread a blanket of ash over a very large area. One or two feet of this powdered glass covered the flat savannah-like grasslands of northeastern Nebraska.

Most of the animals which lived here survived the actual ashfall, but as they continued to graze on the ash covered grasses, their lungs began to fill up with the abrasive powder. Soon their lungs became severely damaged and they began to die.

The smaller animals died first (smaller lung capacities) and finally, after perhaps three to five weeks, the last of the rhinos perished.Their bodies were quickly covered by the blowing and drifting ash.

Undisturbed except by an occasional scavenging meat-eater, the skeletons of these animals are preserved in their death positions, complete with evidence of their last meals in their mouths and stomachs and their last steps preserved in the sandstone below.


Gabe Wilkey

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Awesome experience and really eye opening. The fossil beds deserve more recognition, truly. The staff was friendly and easy to converse with. A real wealth of knowledge and information. Had a ton of fun. Hadn't been since I was a kid and the expansion and renovations were awesome. Truly a hidden gem. Bought an awesome coffee mug too!

Cobra Commander

Monday, July 9, 2018
This place was cool. So much more to discover than meets the eye. Well laid out interpretive center with interactive exhibits for children. Archaeological digs are open to the public with someone always on site to speak with. Thoroughly surprised and not what I expected for an out of the way spot of interest in Nebraska.

Michelle Kreations

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Visiting with my young grandson. Really enjoyed it. People working in the rhino barn very friendly and willing to take time to talk to my grandson. Young lady working in the main building was also very friendly. Recommend the visit. There is still a lot to be found here.

Nicole Kallhoff

Sunday, June 3, 2018
It was raining when we visited, so it was nice that the fossils are protected from the elements by shelter that made it easier for us to stay and see the exhibit. The fossils are interesting and the information was presented by a knowledgeable guide. However, there isn't much else to see / do there so I'm not sure that it was worth the 2.5 hour drive it took for us to go. If you happen to be driving through the area, it might be worth a stop.

Sam Eggleston

Friday, July 27, 2018
Really enjoyed this stop. Amazingly well preserved fossils from 11 million years ago. Also very helpful interns with a wealth of knowledge.

Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media