New 'Fossil Freeway' route promotes prehistoric finds

Released on 06/29/2009, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., June 29th, 2009 —
Fossil Freeway map
Fossil Freeway map
Fossil Freeway logo
Fossil Freeway logo

Travelers on the "Fossil Freeway" of Western Nebraska and South Dakota will find adventure and mystery on a one-of-a-kind highway corridor of prehistoric fossil finds.

From Nebraska's Panhandle to the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Fossil Freeway includes seven fossil-related sites located between Interstates 80 and 90. The attractions along this short stretch of highway of rare geologic wonders and paleontology discoveries allow visitors to experience the rich fossil history of the region along one scenic route. The Fossil Freeway attractions include:

* Mammoth Site of Hot Springs (Hot Springs, S.D.)
* Toadstool Geologic Park (Chadron, Neb.)
* Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed (Chadron, Neb.)
* University of Nebraska's Trailside Museum of Natural History (Fort Robinson State Park, Crawford, Neb.)
* Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (Harrison, Neb.)
* Scotts Bluff National Monument (Gering, Neb.)
* Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area (Gering)

Individually, these attractions draw visitors to the region from far and wide every year. In a collaborative effort, the sites joined to form the Fossil Freeway Coalition in 2007 to increase awareness of the diverse collection of fossils concentrated along this corridor, as well as the region's natural beauty, wildlife and outdoor recreational activities. The partnership encourages tourists to venture off the well-traveled I-80 in Nebraska and I-90 in South Dakota to see the sites in the region in between. The group launched its Web site,, in June to serve as a resource for those interested in exploring the area.

Mark Harris, co-chair of the Fossil Freeway Coalition and associate director of the University of Nebraska State Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the group hopes to show tourists the unique opportunity to visit an impressive array of world-class fossil sites in one easy trip.

"Few places in the world can boast about so many fantastic fossil discoveries covering such a huge range in ancient history -- all located in a tight geographical group. We are unique in the world in that sense. We want people of all ages to hear about it and we want them to come visit," Harris said.

For more information about the Fossil Freeway and distinctive opportunities it offers to explore the fossil remains of Nebraska and South Dakota's prehistoric past, as well as the natural beauty of the region, visit An interactive map, photos and details about other stops to make along the way are also available.

The Fossil Freeway Coalition is funded primarily by a grant from the Midwest Region of the National Parks Services and private donations. For questions about the Fossil Freeway Coalition, contact Harris by e-mail or at (402) 472-6699.

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