Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ashfall Fossil Beds and Smith Falls

After leaving Fremont State Rec. Area we headed west on U.S. Route 30 toward Columbus to pick up Hwy 81 north. Both roads were pretty good. There were some bumpy spots but for the most part they were an easy ride with very little traffic.

Ashfall Fossil Beds is worth the side-trip.  My info is in the truck and I am in the trailer writing this in my jammies so my facts may be off but here goes.  The site was discovered in the 1970s and the park opened in the early 1990s. A cataclysmic volcanic eruption took places 12 million or so years ago which spewed ash a foot deep eastward into Nebraska.  The animals that were found at Ashfall  were seeking relief from the effects of breathing ash for several weeks in a water hole.  Here these animals succumbed to the ash and were buried in short order preserving whole skeletons in massive numbers.

We highly recommend the Ashfall Fossil Beds near O’Neill, Nebraska. The staff is very knowledgeable and the visitors center rivals any National Park Service facility.  In the Rhino Barn we spoke with a paleontologist who oversees the site and supervises students who intern there over the summer.




After we got set up at Wacky West, we headed out to find Smith Falls and after about 30 minutes we arrive and took a half mile trek to view the falls.  It was well worth it.


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