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Royal - 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.


Joshua Anders

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017
A hidden gem in northeast Nebraska! I’ve lived just 90 min away for most of my life but never knew what was up here. Very well put together. Knowledgeable staff. The guy digging was very engaging with our kids. This place is a must see!

Joshua Coleman

Friday, Oct. 6, 2017
This year they found ancient dog tracks! That was cool. Of course seeing rhino bones(and others) is not something I expected to see in the USA(other than a zoo). If you come at the right time the students will be digging up more bones and will answer any questions and give extra info. Who knows what else they will find through the years! It is wheelchair friendly, as well.

Kristopher Rockfield

Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017
Very nice place. Stopped here while driving cross country. A little out of the way but well worth the visit.

Sarah Kehlenbeck

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
Top notch park. It was a jaw dropping experience! We can't wait to return.

Jonathan Bond

Saturday, July 22, 2017
12 million years in the making. Unique fossil bed which is still giving up its secrets. There is a good interpretive center and gift shop on site. Remember to bring plenty of water id you visit during the heat. Gift shop does sell bottled water if you forget

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