South Dakota
Hands-On Paleontology: Excavating Mammoths in the Black Hills
Work with paleontologists as you uncover fossils at the Mammoth Site in the southern Black Hills. Plus, visit Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument and Custer State Park.
Rating (5)
Program No. 8925RJ
7 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Experience a rare window into the past discovering some of the most well-preserved, undisturbed mammoth fossils the world has ever known — femurs and fibulas, skulls and tusks, backbones and pelvises — at the renowned Mammoth Site in the southern Black Hills. The late paleontologist Dr. Larry Agenbroad, who studied the site for four decades, said, "The Mammoth Site is truly a gift from nature, our inheritance held in trust for over 26,000 years." Scientists estimate that more than 100 mammoths wandered into this ancient Ice Age sinkhole, and now you can study them for yourself, based in the friendly hamlet of Hot Springs.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Minimal walking. Must be able to stand, bend and kneel while excavating and participating in lab work indoors. Physical limitations accommodated. Elevations of 3,100-5,885 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn how to excavate, record and preserve fossil material with the help of expert bone-bed and laboratory curators, geologists and paleontologists.
  • Travel back in time as you explore the world-renowned Mammoth Site and experience the hands-on thrill of working on an active paleontological dig site.
  • Visit three of America’s iconic wonders: Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument and Custer State Park.

General Notes

Participants must sign a waiver before beginning work at the Mammoth Site bone bed and lab. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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William Justin Wilkins
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, William Justin Wilkins attended the University of Cincinnati, majoring in geology and biology. He presently is the In-Situ Bonebed Curator at The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, S.D. Justin is also a cartographer and the secondary educator at The Mammoth Site. He works under the leadership of the site director Dr. Jim Meade.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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William Justin Wilkins
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Suggested Reading List
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