Nevada is set to welcome a new state park, catering to enthusiasts with a penchant for paleontology, as Ice Age Fossils State Park officially opens its gates on Jan. 20. The 315-acre protected area, situated within a short driving distance from The Strip, has been in development since 2017 as part of Governor Brian Sandoval’s “Explore Your Nevada Initiative.”
Named for its rich “paleontological and historical resources,” Ice Age Fossils State Park is a testament to the Pleistocene era, commonly known as the Ice Age. The site, encompassing a section of the Upper Las Vegas Wash, served as a verdant habitat for various now-extinct mammals such as Columbian mammoths, American lions, camels, dire wolves, and ground sloths.
The park’s website details the significant history of scientific research on-site, including the renowned ‘Big Dig’ of 1962, marking the largest inter-disciplinary scientific expedition of its time.
Initially open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the park aims to acclimate its staff to daily operations. Admission tickets are priced at a reasonable $3, and children under 12 can enter for free. Leashed pups are also welcome.
Visitors can explore the park’s visitor center, engaging with rangers, watching a video highlighting the region’s history, and marveling at the life-size mammoth sculpture, aptly named Monumental Mammoth. Future plans for the park include the establishment of a paleontology lab and a fossil repository, as reported by the Nevada Independent.
The park features three initial trails for exploration:
Megafauna Trail (0.3 miles): Suited for all ability levels, this trail showcases metal sculptures depicting prehistoric animals that once inhabited the area.
Las Vegas Wash Trail (1.5 miles): Winding through the dry wash area, this trail offers a diverse landscape for hikers.
Big Dig Trail (1.2 miles): Providing views of fossils along the way, this trail offers a deeper insight into the region’s prehistoric past.
Before entering the park, visitors are reminded that any disturbance or damage to historic structures, artifacts, rocks, plant life, fossils, or other features is strictly prohibited. Such resources are protected by state and federal laws, ensuring the preservation of this unique paleontological treasure for generations to come.