The Niobrara River valley in western Nebraska suffered a severe drought about 19-20 million years ago. This drought caused the deaths of hundreds of animals as they gathered around shallow waterholes. In the early 1900’s the fossil remains of these animals were discovered and the study of them still continues. This area and the fossils are now protected as part of the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.
The monument gets a 3 paw review since it allows dogs on all the trails but there are only 2 trails. The Daemonelix-Devil’s Corkscrew trail and the Fossil Hills trail.
The most common fossil you will see on the trail is the Paleocastor burrows also called Devil’s corkscrews. Paleocastors were similar to modern-day beavers.
Some of the other fossil remains which have been found at the Monument include Stenomylus a gazelle-camel about 2′ tall, Menoceras, the most common bone in the beds was a pony-sized rhinoceroses, an ancestor of the modern horse, Parahippus, is a rare fossil. Two of the larger animals found are the Moropus a relative of the horse and rhinoceros and Dinohyus which was closely related to cows and pigs. Beardogs and other carnivore fossils have also been found as well as their dens.
The park does not offer camping and during the summer months the trails can be very hot. Rattlesnakes do live in the area so it is important to keep yourself and your pets on the trails and out of the tall grass where you are more likely to encounter one. It is also important to be aware of approaching storms which may produce dangerous lighting.