Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument isn’t on anyone’s short list of must-visit places.
Located west of Idaho Falls, it’s not on the route to any of the major National Parks, it’s not easily accessible from any freeway, and there’s no huge wow factor to drive the tourists in.
What it does have is the largest concentration of Hagerman horse fossils in North America, and one of the richest fossil deposits from the Pliocene epoch 3.5 million years ago. These fossils are the last glimpse of life before the Ice Age set in, and the only fossils that are from an age when early humans existed.
The National Monument designation isn’t to showcase beautiful natural wonders to the world, but to protect them from the world.
The visitor center is quite nice, and the only place you’ll see fossils. All of the digs are closed to the public, however there are two scenic overlooks over the Snake River and the Oregon Trail. It is interesting to see the wagon ruts and think back to the time when hardy souls trekked across this land in search of a better life.
We can’t make the recommendation to swing by this one unless you’re already in Idaho Falls and looking to fill your time, you’re an absolute fossil nut, or you’re a checklist freak who must cross off every National Monument.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
The mandatory Pod sign shot at the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center.


Nothing

Nothing out here at the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Nothing but yellow prairie grass, blue sky, and white puffy clouds out here.


Green Spots

Green Spots
It’s a dry, yellow land – except for where the rivers run and the irrigation projects create huge splashes of vivid green.


Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail ran through here, long before the wind turbines and power lines showed up. The wagon wheel ruts are visible just in front of Colette winding their way up this hillside.