Hikes and Strolls
There is no place in the park where you will view fossils in the ground or being excavated. Most of the fossil work currently being completed is laboratory work. We hope to offer a view into the labs once new visitor center facilities are built according to the park long range plans, but there is no target date set for this funding dependent project.
Beyond the park visitor center there are park lands to enjoy. Overlooking the Snake River or remains of the Oregon Trail there are distinctly signed areas in the park. Parking, informational signs, and well defined trails are available as well as vault toilets and a covered picnic table. As staffing is available rangers wander the trails to answer questions or lead guided hikes, but the grounds are open to you regardless of current staffing. Drivers of large vehicles, such as RVs or trailers in tow, should ask at the visitor center about roads and conditions before venturing to the park grounds.
The cliffs on the west side of Hagerman Fossil Beds appear to be places in which to get a good view of the area. You need to realize the soils there are composed primarily of fine grained, sandy silts which are poorly consolidated. Frequently, large areas of the cliffs slump off resulting in massive landslides. Six major landslides have occurred, one of which buried an irrigation water pumping station on the banks of the Snake River 550 feet below the rim. Climbing off-trail is not allowed, due to safety concerns.
Be aware that the fauna of today are more active than those from the past. Scorpions, snakes, red ants, ticks, and other critters are fairly common. Be aware of where you sit down and where you put your hands. Be certain you wear proper footwear when hiking and takes lots of water. There are also yellow jackets, bees, mosquitoes, and ground squirrels that may want to be fed, please do not share your food or drink with them as it is harmful to their health.
The average annual precipitation in the area is eight to ten inches, most of which occurs as snow during winter and some early spring rains. With lack of livestock grazing on park lands, vegetation is becoming relatively dense on much of the area. Grasses in particular provide good habitat for ticks and other biting insects.
When the vegetation dries out in late June-early July, the dried plant material provides abundant explosive fuel for wildfires which can be caused quickly by lightning storms, inadequate vehicle exhausts, or sparks from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Please do not smoke except in designated smoking areas, and dispose of your materials carefully and responsibly.