Ice Age Fossils State Park

A New Park with Old Bones

One of the most spectacular records of Ice Age fossils on the entire planet sits only 20 minutes north of The Strip. The all-new Ice Age Fossils State Park in North Las Vegas proves to be a jackpot, brimming with one of the largest and most varied collections of Ice Age-era prehistoric fossils ever discovered. More than 100,000 years ago, this part of Las Vegas, known as the Upper Las Vegas Wash, was once home to herds of now-extinct mammals including Columbian mammoths, American lions, dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, and prehistoric camels, bison, and horses. Now, the archaeological site (bordered by Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument) is yours for exploring.

Meet the now-extinct mammals that once roamed Las Vegas—ranging from mammoths and dire wolves to giant ground sloths the size of a car—at the newest Nevada State Park.

A Land of Desert Fossils: Las Vegas Wash Prehistory

The jagged Mojave Desert mountain ranges and spectacular dry lake basins before you today were once incredibly lush wetlands. Filled with abundant water and plenty of greenery, the area was a perfect spot for many species of plants and animals to flourish. When these prehistoric creatures died off more than 100,000 years ago, they were buried in the area’s moist soil over time, which is why there are so many diverse and well-preserved fossils now found at this very arid location.

In 1962, an archaeological expedition known as the “Big Dig” led to unprecedented exploration of the Tule Springs fossil beds in the Upper Las Vegas Wash. Archaeologists discovered evidence of extinct mammals including Columbian mammoths, dire wolves, American lions weighing over 1,000 pounds, giant ground sloths the size of a car, and more—all completely untouched for centuries. These historic specimens are now jointly protected by Nevada State Parks and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument.

Visiting Ice Age Fossils State Park Today

Covering 315 acres, Ice Age Fossils State Park showcases Tule Springs’ collection of Pleistocene fossils to Nevada locals and visitors alike. Park features include hiking trails that lead to prehistoric fossil beds and archaeological dig sites, art sculptures, and a modern visitor center with natural history exhibits and a gift shop. 

Mountain bikes, motorized vehicles like OHVs and UTVs, and camping/campfires are prohibited. If you’re interested in learning more, Protectors of Tule Springs can also provide valuable insight and education ahead of your visit.

Aside from the immense concentration of fossils in the area, be on the lookout for rare endemic plants like Arctomecon, commonly known as bear or bear-paw poppies. And remember—disturbing, damaging, or taking any historic artifacts you may find is strictly prohibited.

Hours:

Ice Age Fossils State Park is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Admission:

Admission to Ice Age Fossils State Park is $3 per person, and visitors ages 12 and under are free. Please pay admission in the visitor center.

This Location:

Southern Nevada, Nevada

Region

Southern Nevada