On Jan. 20, Nevada State Parks officially opened the gates to Ice Age Fossils State Park, a 315-acre protected area about half an hour from the Las Vegas Strip. The establishment of the park was announced in 2017 as part of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s “Explore Your Nevada Initiative.”

Rich in paleontological and historical resources, Ice Age Fossils State Park is a mecca for scientific research. The land was once home to Columbian mammoths, American lions, camels, dire wolves, and ground sloths. The abundance of fossils discovered on-site led to the famous “Big Dig” of 1962-1963, the largest inter-disciplinary scientific expedition of its kind at the time, according to the Nevada State Parks website.

Visitors to the park will find a large group area complete with a shade structure and picnic tables; the Visitor Center, featuring exhibits, a gift shop, and more; various educational programs, including group tours; the 0.3-mile Megafauna Trail, featuring metal sculptures of historic megafauna found at the site; the Las Vegas Wash Trail, a 1.5-mile loop; and the Big Dig Trail, a 1.2-mile loop.

The state park is open on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The entrance fee is $3. Children under 12 enter for free.

Main Image: Ice Age Fossils State Park, Credit: Nevada State Parks