Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Overview

Agate is an internationally recognized fossil site. However, as a place, Agate is so much more. The landscape surrounding the fossil beds has been a site of change for millions of years. The relationship between land, weather, ecology and mammals in the Agate area has been a stage of continual change over time.

Agate has also been a home to people like James Cook and his wife, Kate; great leaders of great nations like Red Cloud and American Horse. A place where people have lived, raised families and died. The record that is preserved in this cultural landscape not only reflects the diverse history of change and evolution, but also the struggles of existence in a region with so many extremes.

Agate is also a place of interaction, reflective of both the natural and cultural realms. For Agate has been a meeting place between weather and sediment; the exchange of ideas and memories between cultures; and a site for present generations to make contact with the past. It's a place where tangible reminders of these interactions are present everyday. The weathering of sedimentary rock, bones becoming visible in cliffs, and the gifts presented to James Cook by the Lakota Sioux are all reflective of the strong natural and cultural relationships of the Agate landscape.

Depending upon one's cultural viewpoint, discovery will always have a direct connection to the scientific history of Agate. During the 1880s and moving into a new century, scientists would rediscover what the Lakota Sioux and others already knew about--bones preserved in what many paleontologists believe is one of the best preserved Miocene mammal sites in the world. Through the help of James and Kate Cook, the complex interactions between weather, mammals and the land would be studied by scientific field crews from places like Pittsburgh and New York City.

So, Agate is more than fossils; it is a cultural landscape that has evolved over millions of years and reflects many players; from early mammals roaming the valleys and hills, to nomadic nations of the plains, and later tales of life in the American West. Agate is truly a place of history.

Map

Seasonality / Weather

Trails are open from dawn until dusk year-round. The visitor center is open year-round, except for federally observed holidays. Agate is generally sunny and dry in the summer, with occasional afternoon thundershowers, and windy and cold in the winter. Wear comfortable clothing appropriate to the season. Hats are useful against exposure to the sun. Good walking shoes are recommended for use on the hiking trails.

Directions

Driving: 

Visitors traveling east-west on U.S. Highway 26, turn North on State Highway 29 at Mitchell, Nebraska. The park is 34 miles from Mitchell. Visitors traveling on U.S. Highway 20, turn South on State Highway 29 at Harrison, Nebraska. The park is 22 miles from Harrison. Follow the National Park Service signs.

Public Transport: 

Public Transportation - No public transportation is available at the park.