Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in southern Idaho preserves and protects one of the largest fossil beds in the country. The site is known for the Hagerman Horse, Equus simplicidens, which is the first one-toed horse. The park has fossils of over two hundred species but their most famous fossil is of the Hagerman Horse.
Hagerman Fossil Beds has one of largest population of fossilized horses. These fossilized horses are thought to link prehistoric horses and modern horses. The fossil beds also contain large numbers of fossils from the Pilocene epoch with over 3,000 new fossils found yearly.
One thing to know for your visit is there are no places in the park where you will view fossils in the ground or being excavated. Most of the fossil work is completed in laboratories. You can see and learn about the work being done to preserve and protect the fossils at the visitor center.
If you plan on doing some hiking while in the park be prepared for hot weather, snakes, ticks, and other assorted bugs and critters. The park has a few designated walking areas for visitors. There is no off-trail hiking or exploring to help protect the fossil beds. Make sure and bring your ten essentials with you if you plan to explore the park.
Top things to do at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Hagerman Fossil Beds Visitor Center
The Hagerman Fossil Beds Visitor Center is located in the heart of Hagerman, Idaho. The visitor center is fairy small but they do have a great mounted skeleton of the world famous Hagerman Horse, small store and wonderful staff to answer all of your questions.
They were a wealth of information not only on Hagerman Fossil Beds but also the nearby parks and historic trails. They supplied us with wonderful information and made sure all of our questions were answered
Become a Junior Ranger
The Hagerman Fossil Beds Junior Ranger pamphlet will take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the age of the participant.
Look for the Oregon Trail Ruts
Make sure and look for the Oregon Trail Ruts when you visit the overlooks. Hagerman Fossil Beds is on the Oregon Trail National Historic Trail so this is a great place to see the historic Oregon Trail.
Hike along the Emigrant Trail
You can explore the 3 mile each way Emigrant Trail while out in the park. One tip is to park a car at the lower parking lot and then drive to the top lot (Oregon Trail Overlook) and hike down to the lower lot. The trail is a much easier hike on the way down than all the way up. Be prepared for blaring sun with no real shade along with the potential of rattlesnakes, ticks and scorpions.
The trail is runs along a portion of the historic Oregon Trail.
Hagerman Fossil Beds is located on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway which showcases the history and geology of the Snake River Canyon. The scenic byway is 67.8 miles long and estimated to take 1.5 hours to drive.
Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument Info and Things to Know
Make sure and bring water and snacks with you. The town of Hagerman is not large!!!!
Also make sure you are prepared for the sun. There is very little shade at the overlooks or along the hiking trails.
There are outhouses at each of the overlooks. We found them to be very clean during our visit.
Places to stay near Hagerman Fossil Beds NM
Please note that we have not stayed at any of these locations but wanted to give you an idea of what we saw near the park.
Hagerman RV Village – 60 grassy pull-through sites, 75 feet long with room for slide outs with 20/30/50 amp service. They also have camper cabins.
1000 Springs Resort – 18 RV sites and cabins. Their website suggests calling at least a month ahead to confirm availability.
The closest “large” city to the park is Twin Falls, Idaho.
Boise is 96 miles to the west.
221 N State St
Hagerman, ID 83332
Hagerman Fossil Beds NM Visitor Center, 221 North State Street, is located along Highway 30 in the town of Hagerman across from the high school.
Hagerman Fossil Beds Visitor Center is located approximately one and one-half hours from Boise, Idaho and forty minutes from Twin Falls, Idaho.
Visitor Center – 9 am to 5 pm daily
Park hours – Sunrise to Sunset
There is no cost to enter the Monument or the Visitor Center
National Parks near Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Minidoka National Historic Site – 40 miles
City of Rocks National Reserve – 104 miles
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve – 109 miles
Golden Spike National Historic Site (Utah) – 185 miles
Fossil Butte National Monument (Wyoming) – 293 miles