Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Agate Fossil Beds
Agate Fossil Beds – Photo by National Park Service
Agate Fossil Bed
Agate Fossil Bed – Photo by National Park Service

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located in Sioux County about 20 miles south of Harrison, off Highway 29. Habitat includes nearly 2,000 acres of Shortgrass Prairie. No published bird checklist is yet available, but 156 species have been reported for the site, including Ferruginous Hawk, Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owl, Saw-whet Owl (not yet known to nest in Nebraska), White-throated Swift, Cassin’s Kingbird, Pinyon Jay, Townsend’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Black- headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, and three species of longspurs, including both McCown’s and Chestnut-collared as summer residents. .

Ferruginous Hawk feeding young
Ferruginous Hawk feeding young

The 1-mile Daemonelix Trail and 2.5-mile Fossil Hills Trail are open daily from dawn to dusk. Trails lead to the north and south rim of the valley and to sites where fossils have been found. The Daemonelix Trail has exhibits encasing actual fossils. The Visitor’s Center houses dramatic displays showcasing ancient mammals of the Great Plains and the Cook collection of American Indian artifacts. Visitors during Nebraska Wildflower Week (first week of June) may enjoy guided Ranger Walks several times daily.