Nevada’s Ice Age Fossils State Park opens in Las Vegas
The new park features an interactive visitor center, nearly four miles of established trails, areas for picnicking and group events, ample parking, restroom facilities, and a curated gift shop.
North Las Vegas, Nev. – In a monumental celebration, leaders and partners came together to mark the opening of Nevada’s newest state park, Ice Age Fossils, located in North Las Vegas. The ribbon-cutting ceremony, held earlier this week, featured remarks from Park Supervisor Garrett Fehner, State Parks Administrator Bob Mergell, and Trustee for Helmsley Charitable Trust Walter Panzirer. Nevada Leadership, including Governor Joe Lombardo, Lieutenant Governor Stavros Anthony, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Director James Settelmeyer, State Treasurer Zach Conine, and Speaker Steve Yeager, were in attendance as well.
The journey to the unveiling of this paleontological wonderland traces back to 1903, when the United States Geological Survey made the first fossil discoveries in the area known as Tule Springs. These exciting discoveries led the Nevada State Parks Commission (now Nevada Division of State Parks) to acquire a 315-acre parcel of land in 1958. Subsequent expeditions, including the notable “Big Dig” of 1962-1963, culminated in the official dedication of the 315-acre parcel as a state park in 2017 under the Explore Your Nevada Initiative by former Governor Brian Sandoval. Despite construction challenges, funding hurdles, and a pandemic, the park is now set to open its doors to the public this Saturday, January 20, 2024.
“I’m thrilled and proud to announce the opening of Nevada’s newest State Park” said Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Director James Settelmeyer. “This exciting milestone not only unveils prehistoric treasures but fills us with pride as a community, showcasing our commitment to preserving our natural heritage, boosting local tourism, and bringing lasting benefits to all who call Nevada home.”
The state-of-the-art $4 million visitor center offers interactive exhibits, allowing visitors to delve into the ancient and modern-day history of the park. Fossil enthusiasts can immerse themselves in displays, learning about paleontology and the Megafauna that once roamed the area. The park’s newly established trail system, spanning nearly four miles, guides hikers through the Las Vegas Wash, the historic Trench K site, and around the famous “Big Dig” area. The trails provide opportunities for firsthand views of exposed fossils, metal sculptures of Megafauna species, and serene picnicking areas.
“Over the last few years, our team has been working hard to transform this area into a State Park” said Ice Age Fossils State Park Supervisor Garrett Fehner. “We look forward to sharing the surprising stories of the park and are here to make sure you have a safe and memorable visit.” Initially open on weekends from 8:00 a.m.to 4:30 p.m., the park’s hours will be adjusted for more availability as staff become accustomed to daily operations. The park entrance fee is $3 per person, visitors 12 years old and younger admitted free. The updated State Park Passport will be available to the public later this spring.
- Link to press kit, photos, and drone footage here
- Park webpage
This park was funded in part by the Land and Water Conservation Fund; The Recreational Trails Program; The Helmsley Charitable Trust; The Protectors of Tule Springs; Conserve Nevada; and internal state funds. The projects were a collaboration between the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Ice Age Foundation; Nevada State Museum; National Park Service; City of Las Vegas; City of North Las Vegas; Clark County; Clark County School District; Archeo-Nevada Society; Nevada Division of Wildlife; United States Fish and Wildlife; and the National Science Foundation.