The Waco Mammoth: Can You Dig It?

Over Thanksgiving break, we loaded up our RV, Gracie, and headed to Waco for a few days before ultimately ending up at my sister’s house near Bryan/College Station. When most people think of Waco, they think of “Fixer Upper” stars Chip & Joanna Gaines, Baylor University or cult leader David Koresh — but there’s now something new for this central Texas town to be known for: Mammoths!

A fairly new addition to the National Park system was created in 2015 on the site where a group of Columbian mammoths were found ensconced in the soil. Prior to this, I’d only heard of woolly mammoths, but it turns out that there were two species in North America with the Columbian mammoth being the larger (up to 50% bigger than the woolly variety).

This Waco Mammoth National Monument is a quick visit. We were there for maybe an hour. You park for free at the small welcome center, pay a fee and walk down a paved path to the active “dig shelter,” where scientists have unearthed the bodies of multiple female mammoths and their young. No one knows for sure why they died here, but the working theory is that they got trapped and perished in a flash flood.

I highly recommend it if you’re in the area and looking for a quick excursion that doesn’t involve shiplap. 😉

(That said, Magnolia is worth the visit, just to see how they transformed the abandoned grain silos and surrounding mill into an adorable oasis dedicated to Joanna’s signature style.)

The dig site is viewed from above via suspended catwalk. Scientists and volunteers are on-site to answer questions and provide guidance on what you’re looking at.
There are free guided tours with loads of interesting info. (Sidebar, that illustration is true-to-size for how enormous the Columbian mammoths were.)
Claire admiring that there’s also a Sabertooth Cat in the dig site.
Claire got a kick out of being able to touch and stand next to a replica of one of the mammoth femurs.

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