Does a dinosaur dig sound like a fun adventure for you and your family? If so, head over to the top dinosaur attraction in South Dakota, the Mammoth Site, where your kids can learn the skills to be a paleontologist and get hands-on experience with history.
Since professional paleontologists began excavating in the Black Hills less than half a century ago, 60 Columbian Mammoth carcasses and 85 other mammals and plants, dating back 26,000 years, have been uncovered. At the Mammoth site, you and your kids can fearlessly come face to face with these mammals from our past.
Fun Things for Kids at the Mammoth Site
The site is open for visitors year round, and from June 1st to August 15th, children aged 4-12 years will have the chance to get down and dirty and dig for dinosaurs as part of the Jr. Paleontology Program. In this program kids will practice excavation techniques on fiberglas replicas, learn mapping techniques and how to identify fossils and bones.
And if that does not satisfy your child’s curiosity, the site also offers an Advanced Paleontology Program in which kids will learn excavation techniques as well as how to map and jacket a bone. Kids can also take a look behind windows of the laboratory, where scientists are conducting work on site.
Immerse yourself further into the Ice Age and learn the skill of Atlatl hunting. Kids 13 and older will learn the history and techniques of the ancient hunting method – and even get to practice it!
This is a popular pastime, so make advance reservations. Families with children under 4 years old can tour the exciting Ice Age remains, picnic on the front lawn, or play in a nearby playground during the 90-minute Junior Paleontologist Excavation sessions. And in case you don't get a chance to dig during during the summer, the rest of the site is open year round, including the museum and the indoor fossil boneyard.
Be sure to check out the admission rates as they offer a handful of discounts including group and family prices.
More Hot Springs Adventures & Trip Planning Details
If your family’s hankering for history is still unquenched, the small town of Hot Springs, dotted with historic sandstone buildings, meandering streams, and pocket parks is a great base for a tour to nearby Mt. Rushmore (605/574-2523), which is 50 miles north.
You can visit Evan's Plunge, the world's largest natural indoor swimming hole fed by springs which remain 87°F year-round, then bundle up for a tour of the 125-mile-long Wind Cave, which remains 53°F. This 320 million-year-old geological attraction is thought to have been submerged in water up until about 40 million years ago, and takes it name from the powerful gusts of wind that are emitted from the mouth of the cave.
Another unique adventure is a visit to the former Native American lands along the Cheyenne River, where 300 wild mustangs are protected in the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
There are also plenty of hotels in the area that offer great prices. From B&B’s to inns and resorts, there are accommodations available to fit the needs of any family. Call the Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce (605/745-4140) for information.
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