8925
South Dakota
Hands-On Paleontology: Excavating and Preserving 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
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,249
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Hot Springs, SD
D
USA Stay Hotel & Suites

Activity note: For this afternoon's exploration of the Mammoth Site, you can walk the 6-7 blocks to the site or a ride will be provided.

Afternoon: Hotel check-in: Available from 3 p.m. Program Registration: After getting your room assignment, please go to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to register, pick up your Arrival Packet, which will have the latest updated schedule, and find out the time of the day’s Orientation. The group will meet at 3:45 p.m. in the hotel hospitality room to either walk or ride to the Mammoth Site for the introduction tour.

Dinner: Woolly’s Western Grill is across the street from the hotel. Each dinner at Woolly's is order off the menu along with a daily chef's choice entrée. American cuisine as well as several Mexican Style entrées. Additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: Enjoy a warm welcome and introductions to staff and your fellow participants. We will review the schedule and discuss responsibilities, schedule changes, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, contact numbers for key staff and answer all your questions.

DAY
2
Excavation or Lab work at Mammoth Site / Evening Lecture
Hot Springs, SD
B,L,D
USA Stay Hotel & Suites

Activity note: On each day of this program, you must be able to stand, bend, kneel and handle a small container of sediment while excavating in the bone bed (indoors) and participating in lab work (indoors). If you have physical limitations, the staff will help you find a location within the bone bed and lab that will work for you.

Breakfast: Daily breakfast begins at 6:00 a.m. in the hotel. Choice of hot/cold cereal, assorted breads, pastries, hot egg dish, breakfast meat, yogurt, fruit, milk, juices, water, coffee, and hot tea. Additional beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Work begins daily at the Mammoth Site at 8 a.m. Participants will split into two or three groups for the excavation and lab work. Justin Wilkins, In-situ bone bed curator and secondary educator along with Monica Bugbee will provide excavation instruction and an overview of the bone bed before each group begins working, as well as continuing supervision and instruction during the week. Lab director and collections curator Olga Potapova oversees all aspects of the lab work. All groups will have equal time to work in the lab, the bone bed excavation site, molding and casting, and an exhibits walk/talk along with a mapping demonstration. The lab group will rotate its work in three major areas: bone preparation, molding and casting, and screen-picking bone bed sediments for small fauna, etc. In addition, Olga Potapova and her assistants will take you on a behind-the-scenes exploration of the lab-specimen storage area. With our experts, you will practice excavation techniques as you piece together life in the Ice Age. Fossil finds may be actual portions of the animal, such as bones, teeth, and shells; imprints of tracks and trails; or maybe replaced by minerals such as silica, iron and manganese. Excavation continues in the previously opened areas of the site both in lateral and vertical dimensions.

Lunch: Today's lunch at the Mammoth Site is chicken, potato salad, buns, salad, dessert, bottled water, hot tea and coffee. You will meet and eat with the Mammoth Site staff members working behind the scenes.

Afternoon: Work continues with the excavation and lab work led by our experts. Work ends at the Mammoth Site at 4 p.m.

Dinner: Woolly’s Western Grill across the street from the hotel, 4-5:30 p.m.

Evening: Justin Wilkins presents a 6:30 p.m. lecture, “Geology of the Black Hills and Surrounding Areas.”

DAY
3
Excavation or Lab work at Mammoth Site / Evening Lecture
Hot Springs, SD
B,L,D
USA Stay Hotel & Suites

Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.

Morning: Work continues at 8 a.m. with the excavation and lab work led by our experts.

Lunch: Sack lunch at the Mammoth Site, along with a short presentation about the history of the site. Ham, turkey, roast beef sandwiches, chips, salad, dessert, coffee and bottled water. Soda available for purchase in machines at Mammoth Site.

Afternoon: Participants will continue to work in groups on the excavation and lab work that is led by our experts. Again, there will be a rotation in three major areas: bone preparation, molding and casting, and screen-picking bone bed sediments for small fauna, etc. Work ends at the site at 4 p.m.

Dinner: Woolly’s Western Grill across the street from the hotel, 4-5:30 p.m.

Evening: In the hotel breakfast room at 6:30 p.m., Justin Wilkins lecture topic is "A History of Proboscidea."

DAY
4
Excavation or Lab work at Mammoth Site / Evening Lecture
Hot Springs, SD
B,L,D
USA Stay Hotel & Suites

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Work continues at 8 a.m. with the excavation and lab work led by our experts.

Lunch: Enjoy your salad lunch during a noon presentation at the Mammoth Site. Beverage choices include bottled water, hot tea and coffee. Purchased sodas available at Mammoth Site. You will be working with Justin on a tooth molding-and-casting project.

Afternoon: Participants will continue to work in groups on the excavation and lab work that is led by our experts. Again, there will be a rotation in three major areas: bone preparation, molding and casting, and screen-picking bone bed sediments for small fauna, etc. Work ends at the site at 4 p.m.

Dinner: Wooly’s Western Grill across the street from hotel, 4-5:30 p.m.

Evening: Enjoy a 6:30 p.m. lecture by Justin Wilkins, "Mammalian Osteology and Odontology."

DAY
5
Excavation or Lab work at Mammoth Site / Evening Lecture
Hot Springs, SD
B,L,D
USA Stay Hotel & Suites

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Beginning at 8 a.m., participants will continue to work in groups on the excavation and lab work that is led by our experts. Also interact with other experienced workers and volunteers. Practice your excavation techniques as you help piece together life in the Ice Age. Fossil finds may be actual portions of the animal, such as bones, teeth, and shells; imprints of tracks and trails; or maybe replaced by minerals such as silica, iron and manganese.

Lunch: Sandwiches, chips, fruit, salad, dessert, water, hot tea and coffee for lunch at the Mammoth Site. Purchase sodas at the Mammoth Site. Finish your tooth identification project with Justin.

Afternoon: Participants will continue to work in groups on the excavation and lab work that is led by our experts. Work ends at the Mammoth Site at 4 p.m.

Dinner: Woolly’s Western Grill across the street from hotel, 4-5:30 p.m.

Evening: At 6:30 p.m. in the hotel hospitality room, hear a final lecture "The Mammoth Site in context of the late Pleistocene." Say goodbye to the Mammoth Site staff.

DAY
6
Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument
Hot Springs, SD
B,L,D
USA Stay Hotel & Suites

Activity note: Will be walking across grassy areas at the Buffalo Roundup, flat sidewalk surfaces at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, optional walking trail with steps at Mount Rushmore.

Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.

Morning: Depart the hotel very early in the morning to attend the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup. Enjoy a drive through Custer State Park’s 73,000 acres, one of the largest state parks in the nation. While driving the park’s Wildlife Loop, watch for mule and whitetail deer, antelope, “begging” burros, coyotes, wild turkeys, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and Golden Eagles. The State Game Lodge, located within the park, is a gracious stone-and-wood lodge built in 1920 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It served as the "Summer White House" for President Calvin Coolidge in 1927 and was visited by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. During the Buffalo Roundup, you will be sitting and standing on grassy areas. Your instructor will find the best observation place as park personnel and cowhands do their best to drive the buffalo into corrals in this first step to preparing part of the herd for the November Buffalo Auction. The annual roundup is conducted to keep the bison population in check with the available grassland forage. The revenues from the sale (about 450 animals) help support day-to-day operations of the park. Bison facts: It is the largest land mammal in North America, can stand 6 feet at the shoulders, weigh over 2,000 pounds, clock speeds of 50 mph and easily push a one-ton opponent backwards. Buffalo paw the ground and raise their tail as a warning when angry. During a storm, buffalo face straight into the storm, whereas domestic livestock face away.

Lunch: Enjoy a BBQ sandwich, chips, cookie, bottled water or coffee for lunch at the Buffalo Roundup Corral Tent. Beer available for purchase.

Afternoon: At 1 p.m., park staff begins branding the calves and checking the general health of all the bison, determining which will be sold and which kept. You can watch all this from a catwalk above the pens. Travel to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. The majestic, 60-foot faces of four U.S. presidents gaze out over South Dakota’s Black Hills. From the Grandview Terrace, the views are spectacular of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Discover why the four presidents were selected, see how the mountain was carved and learn about sculptor Gutzon Borglum and workers who brought Mount Rushmore to life. Visit the interpretive center that explains how the mountain was carved, watch a short introduction film, find your state flag, and just enjoy the beauty of the area. If you can walk stairs, you may want to take a half-mile walk on the Presidential Trail. Later, 15 miles from Mount Rushmore, see a fifth granite face that has emerged in the Black Hills. Crazy Horse is the largest sculptural undertaking ever, on a scale with the Egyptian pyramids. In 1939, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to carve an Indian memorial in the Black Hills. Though Korczak died in 1982, the sculptor’s family continues the non-profit project. It will be the largest mountain carving in the world when completed.

Dinner: Enjoy a Farewell Dinner at Woolly's, say goodbye to fellow participants and share stories of your week long adventure in the Black Hills.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Hot Springs, SD
B

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel. The program concludes after breakfast. Hotel checkout by noon. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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