Things To Do

Two large fossil skeletons in front of a wall and windows. Artificial brown grassy plant in foreground.
The visitor center exhibits Miocene Epoch mammals and the James Cook Collection of Lakota artifacts. Speak with a ranger to learn about our trails!

NPS Photo / Jason Gray

The Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is a must see for any traveler in the region. The park has been preserved since 1965 and features many unique attractions like the James Cook collection of Native American artifacts, Miocene Epoch mammal fossils, and even the Niobrara River wetlands.

Travel Back 23 Million Years

These fossils at Agate, they're not dinosaurs?!?

Nope. They're the remains of mammals, 23 million-year-old mammals at that! And one of the main attractions most visitors marvel over is this life size display of ancient mammals -- Dinohyus (a giant pig-like creature), Moropus and beardog who roamed America's High Plains those many years ago. The diorama in their visitor center based on these animals are true to form and size. Walk up close and see firsthand what a waterhole would have been like for them back then.

Mannequin of woman in blue dress working next to a tipi. Native American craft artifacts displayed in front of her.
Dozens of historically and artistically significant artifacts of Lakota culture and heritage are on display in the Cook Collection at Agate Fossil Beds.

NPS Photo / J. Gray

Experience a New Perspective on Plains Indian History

See the most impressive collection of Northern Plains Indian artifacts around. Explore the Lakota and Cheyenne culture through the impressive James H. Cook collection of gifts from Chief Red Cloud. These gifts were given by the Lakota to James Cook when they visited him at the Agate Springs Ranch.

Visitors to the National Monument today can see historic gifts from these tribes, including Chief Red Cloud's shirt and moccasins. There is also a range of other artifacts on display in the gallery at the visitor center museum, such as Crazy Horse's whetstone, American Horse's war club from the Fetterman Fight, and more!

If you're on a road trip to visit sites like Fort Laramie, Fort Robinson, and the Black Hills, a stop at the Cook Collection here at Agate will tie together that story of the Plains Indian Wars. As well as the United States' troubling history with the tribes of the Northern Plains.

Stretch Your Legs on Our Two Trails

During the summer months, visit the tipis raised by members of the Lakota tribe.

We have two trails for you to hike and explore:

  • The 1 mile Daemonelix Trail features in situ fossil exhibits of the spiral corkscrew fossil of the Paleocastor, an ancient land beaver that lived here in the Miocene.

  • The 2.8 mile Fossil Hills Trail takes visitors to the historic dig sites. Explore the source of our famous fossil discoveries. On the way, a boardwalk takes you over natural wetlands and the Niobrara river. Please note that while there are many interpretive signs telling you about the paleontology history of the monument, there are currently no fossil displays on this trail.

Paper trail guides are available in the visitor center or download the NPS App before you visit and with our free visitor center WiFi.

Young people working on Junior Ranger Activity Guides in the visitor center.
The Junior Ranger program is a great way to keep your favorite students engaged on your National Parks road trip.

NPS Photo

Be a Junior Ranger

Visiting your National Parks with your favorite young student? Turn any visit to these beautiful and historical landmarks into a positive, enriching and educational experience!

If you're 6 or older, ask the ranger for the Junior Ranger program. You can earn an awesome badge here at Agate, as well as other cool souvenirs throughout our park system. If this sounds too challenging (or not fun enough), there are plenty of things that kids 2-5 years old will enjoy: coloring pages designed just for them in the Peewee Ranger program!

Last updated: September 3, 2021

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Harrison , NE 69346


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