Discover South Dakota’s Mammoth Site

Posted By Allison on Jan 23, 2013

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Mammoth Site

The Mammoth Site was the last stop of our Black Hills vacation. If we had known that we were going to drive all the way home to Salt Lake City that day, we probably wouldn’t have taken the time for this attraction. I’m glad we did.

The Mammoth Site is a pre-historic sinkhole where 60 mammoth skeletons have been discovered, to date. It is a working paleontology dig site, and the 60th mammoth was discovered as recently as 2012.

Most of the fossils are Colombian Mammoths, though three Woolly Mammoths have also been found. Fossils from 85 other Ice Age species, as well as information on ancient rocks and plant life, have also been found.

Mammoth Site

If anyone in your family loves fossils, the Mammoth Site is an obvious slam dunk. What impressed me most is how easy it is to identify the mammoth fossils. Skulls, tusks and bodies are obviously and abundantly embedded in the rock.

The 30-minute tour is required to see the site. It consists of several stops at telephone banks around the perimeter of the site. Each guest gets her own telephone to listen to the information. The tour takes about 30-minutes. My kids didn’t listen to every word of it, but the tour moves quickly enough that they did pretty well.

After the tour, there are several areas in the museum where families can explore hands-on exhibits of fossils, and early human history. There are several places that are especially fun for kids to spend a few minutes.

Mammoth Site

If you plan ahead, the Mammoth Site provides Junior Paleontologist Excavation Programs for kids and teens. It looked fun, but registration for the next program was closed by the time we learned about it during our visit. The website assures families that kids will get dirty, and photography is encouraged. It’s a fun photo op waiting to happen. Additional fees are changed for these programs.

The Mammoth site was discovered in 1974 when the land was being excavated for a housing development. Local citizens preserved the site, and a climate-controlled museum was erected over it.

The Mammoth Site is a great example of how delightful an unexpected discovery can be. Workers were surprised when they uncovered a huge cache of mammoth fossils in 1974. Our family was pleasantly surprised by the Mammoth Site too.

Mammoth SiteGood to Know

Where: 1800 Highway 18, Truck route. We found it easily, driving south from Rapid City.

When: Hours change seasonally. Last tour begins 1 hour before closing. Check the website for specific information for the date you will be there. In general:

  • Summer: 8:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m.
  • Spring and Fall: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Winter: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

How Much:

  • Ages 13-59: $9
  • Ages 4-12: $7
  • Ages 0-3: Free
  • Ages 60+: $8

How Long: 1-2 hours, for the 30-minute tour and some solo exploration

Amenities: Gift shop, restrooms


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Hi there! I am the founder of Tips for Family Trips. I am a married mom of two children, ages 10 and 12, living near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first child on a two-week road trip when she was four weeks old and we have been traveling as a family ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do fun things, both far away and in our own neighborhood.


  1. This is totally one of those places that I absolutely have to stop at when I head to the Black Hills. My son wants to be an archaeologist, too many Indiana Jones movies I think! But still a place he would LOVE to visit. I think I will have to sign him up for the Excavation Program for sure. Thanks for the info on this :).

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  2. What a great place! I love that it’s an active and working paleontology dig site. My kids would love this place and the Junior Paleontologist Excavation Program sounds awesome. Also, your family is still in my thoughts and prayers and following you along on the other blog (even if I don’t comment there).

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  3. We have a place like this in Waco – 6 fully intact mammoths were stuck in the mud and preserved – it is fascinating to see.

    Thanks for sharing and linking up! Hope you have a great week!

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  4. There are so many great things to do in the Black Hills. If only they weren’t so far away from everything else!

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  5. It’s right in the middle of the U.S., so I guess it’s equally far away from everything else. It took us a day to drive from SLC to the Black Hills. We found license plates from every U.S. state and most of the Canadian provinces. It’s worth every mile, I promise!

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  6. Love this place! It really is a moment frozen in time. Totally worth going out of the way to get to!

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