Fossil Butte National Monument


This 50-million year old lake bed is one of the richest fossil localities in the world. Recorded in limestone are dynamic and complete paleoecosystems that spanned two million years. Preservation is so complete that it allows for detailed study of climate change and its effects on biological communities. Visitors discover that this resource displays the interrelationships of plants, insects, fishes, reptiles and mammals, like few other known fossil sites. The relevance and challenge of study and preservation of this ancient ecosystem are equal to those of a modern ecosystem. The surface topography of Fossil Butte is now covered by a high cold desert. Sagebrush is the dominant vegetation at the lower elevations, while limber pine and aspen occur on the slopes. Pronghorn, Mule deer and a variety of birds are commonly seen. Moose, elk and beaver are sometimes observed. There are many opportunities for exploration here at the Fossil Butte National Monument.


Seasonality / Weather

The visitor center is open 7 days a week 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. May 1 through September 30. October through April 30, the visitor center is open 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week, but closed winter holidays. Monument grounds are open sunrise to sunset. The entrance road gate is closed only during severe winter storms. The upper road accessing the picnic area, Chicken Creek Nature Trail (previously Fossil Lake Trail), and scenic drive closes November 1st until the snow melts, usually by late May.