In 1974, a new housing development was being excavated on the south side of Hot Springs, South Dakota when a bulldozer uncovered something unexpected: large bones and ivory! It was confirmed to be remains of mammoths, and soon a paleontological dig started.
Today, you can tour the Mammoth Site, which is still an active dig site, and see the bones and tusks of 61 mammoths. The museum has an app or a brochure that you can use for a detailed self-guided tour, but we found that there was ample signage in the museum to explain what we were looking at.
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This site is great because it’s super easy to see what you’re looking for because the remains are so big!
You can pick up exact replicas of mammoth bones and teeth.
Compare yourself to various extinct mammoths and other mammals. (Mammoths aren’t the type of animal they’ve uncovered.)
Once you are done at the dig site, you can go into the exhibit hall to see other displays, and then head downstairs to see the laboratory (mostly just through windows). You may be able to see paleontologists at work in the lab, and you can watch a 3-D printer creating a very small replica of a fossil. (It takes seven hours to make something about the size of your hand, so it moves pretty slowly.)
At select times of the year, you may even be able to see paleontologists working in the dig site. During the summer, they also have a junior paleontologist program for kids and a family dig program for an additional fee, as well as other activities.
The entire museum is indoors, so it’s a great option in winter. If you are a homeschooling family, be sure to ask about a homeschool rate (may not be available in the summer).
If you’re interested in showing your kids a different perspective on the dates and evolutionary theories presented at the Mammoth Site, you may be interested in the Awesome Science video about The Mammoth Site. You can watch it here with a free trial of AwesomeSciTV streaming, or purchase a DVD or download from Answers in Genesis.
For more information about The Mammoth Site, visit their official website.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, we’d love to host you at The Evanston Suites in downtown Hot Springs! We offer furnished vacation rentals in a historic building right in the center of everything, and just a 10-minute drive to Wind Cave National Park and less than an hour to Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, and more great Black Hills attractions.