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National Park Getaway: Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

HAGERMAN, Idaho – You might not believe it at first, but time travel is possible. Here in southern Idaho at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, you can find yourself back in the Pliocene Epoch, 3 million to 4 million years from the current day. It’s right before the Ice Age, and you’re wandering in the midst of one-toed horses, sabertooth cats, mastodons, ground sloths and camels. These and other creatures survive as fossils in the park’s collection. You can view fossils at the visitor center in the town of Hagerman and then drive to the site where they were found. The trip into the park moves you through millennia to the 19th century, when American pioneers headed west on the Oregon Trail. Traces of that famous route survive in the park, which also offers a presentation on pioneers’ experiences.

Visiting the fossil beds themselves represents a little more chronological wayfaring. Entering the 20th century, you can imagine yourself in the shoes of the rancher who, in 1929, came across “bones” poking out of the desert. You can put yourself in the role of the paleontologists who arrived from the Smithsonian Institution to conduct digs-fruitful ones – for more “bones.” After journeying in time, let the timeless landscape refresh you. Bluffs loom hundreds of feet above the Snake River. Flat bluff-top trails and “bumpy” fields studded with melon gravels spread out before you. You can take a deep breath of clean desert air, savor the present moment, and reflect on the natural and human history in which you’ve sojourned at Hagerman Fossil Beds. From National Park Service

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