Located in Texas, the Waco Mammoth National Monument draws many visitors throughout the year. The site was first discovered in 1978 when two men were searching for arrowheads. For the next two decades, excavation efforts uncovered fossil remains of several mammoths, including a nursery herd. This is the only record of a nursery herd of ice age Columbian mammoths in the United States. The site was established as a national monument in 2015 by President Obama.
While at the monument, explore the walking trails and see plants from the ice-age in addition to an oak tree that is a few hundred years old. Take one of the guided tours for access to the dig site where the mammoth fossils were uncovered. Near the monument, venture out to other local attractions such as the expansive Cameron Park which features a zoo. On a hot day, jump into Lake Waco at one of the two swimming beaches.
Open year-round, visitors can expect the temperatures to be hot from the late spring to early fall. Temperatures are mild and rarely drop below freezing during the winter months. Leashed pets are welcome at all outdoor areas of the monument, but not in any of the buildings. The pet’s leash should be no longer than 6 feet. There are no campgrounds at the monument, but there are KOAs available both north and south of the monument.
Waco Mammoth National Monument is easy to find in Waco, Texas. Off of I-35, the monument is accessible by vehicles of any size. The city of Waco has many restaurants, stores, services, and local attractions that are a short distance from the monument. You won’t have to go far if in need of food or gas during your visit.
About an hour and a half south of the national monument is the Leander/NW Austin KOA. This KOA is open year-round. Reservations are accepted. The KOA can accommodate large rigs with some sites stretching to as long as 100 feet.
Amenities of the Leander/NW Austin KOA include full hookups, restrooms with showers, laundry facilities, a pet area, and complimentary WiFi.
Just over an hour and a half north of Waco Mammoth National Monument is the Dallas/Arlington KOA. Open year-round, this KOA accepts reservations. The KOA has RV sites that extend up to 102 feet in length making it easy to park your RV or trailer, no matter the size.
Amenities include full hookups, WiFi, a dog park, laundry facilities, and a pool which is open seasonally from late May to early October.
There are many walking trails at the monument. These trails are easy, making them enjoyable for all ages. While walking these paths, you’ll see honey locust plants that were present in the area during the ice age. A several hundred year old Texas Live Oak Tree is along the path as well.
While enjoying a stroll, keep an eye out for wildlife that lives at the monument, including roadrunners and deer.
During your visit to the Waco Mammoth National Monument, plan to take a guided tour. Participants of the guided tours will have access to the Dig Shelter where excavation efforts unearthed the mammoth fossils.
Throughout the tour, you’ll learn about the paleontology and archeology that occurred in the area after the site was discovered.
In the summer months, beat the heat with a visit to Lake Waco before or after your visit to Waco Mammoth National Monument. Take a swim at one of the two swimming beaches along the lake. Sheltered picnic areas near the beaches provide a great spot to get a little shade and have lunch.
Boating and other water-sports on Lake Waco are popular and boat launches around the lake provide easy access. The lake is also great for anglers with over 51 species of fish, including largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish.
As one of the largest municipal parks in Texas, Cameron Park has plenty to do and is less than a 10 minute drive from the national monument. The trail system at the park consists of over 20 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking, and jogging.
Cameron Park has three playgrounds for the kids to enjoy and a disc-golf course for all ages. While at the park, be sure to stop by Cameron Park Zoo which features a 50,000 gallon saltwater aquarium.
After your visit to the national monument, head over to the Lake Waco Wetlands. The wetlands habitat began as a conservation project after the water level of Lake Waco was raised several feet.
The 180-acre Lake Waco Wetlands is home to many different types of animals. During a visit you may see blue herons, great egrets, and green tree frogs. If you look closely, you may even spot a beaver.
Continue learning about the mammoths at Baylor University's Mayborn Museum Complex. The complex includes a walk-in diorama of the mammoth sites.
There are also many exhibits that teach the museum’s visitors about the geology and natural history of the area. Themed discovery rooms with hands-on learning are perfect for kids to enjoy.