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Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument - Area Overview
Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument
Overview Getting There Hours Fees Camping Watch Out Rules and Regs
 Fossil Beds

Note: This National Monument is brand new -- designated in December 2014. There are no defined trails or structures of any kind. Please help protect the fossils.

Overview

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is a new National Park Service area that was designated in December 2014 and encompasses about 22,600 acres. The Monument stretches some 43 miles from the north side of Las Vegas northwest along Highway 95 to the edge of the Nellis Bombing Range. At the widest point, it is about 7 miles across, although much of it is fairly narrow, with the narrowest point about 1 mile wide.

Link to Map of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument.

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument was established to protect paleontological resources that span the last 250,000 years, including the last two Ice Ages. Entombed in ancient muds, the fossilized remains of Columbian Mammoth, Camelops (related to Bactrian Camels), American Lions, three species of Extinct Horses, and Ground Sloths can be found.

At present, developed recreational opportunities are nonexistent, but people are welcome to enter and walk about the area. Please look, but do not touch the fossils.

Tule Springs National Monument
Hiker in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

Administration

Historically, the area has been administered by the BLM, but with the new designation as a National Monument, administration shifted to the National Park Service. The Protectors of Tule Springs, a citizen's advocacy group, has spearheaded on-the-ground efforts to care for and protect the area.

Activities

For the public, currently the only activity is off-trail walking in the desert. For paleontologists, there is lots of excavation to be done. The Protectors of Tule Springs lead walks into the fossil areas, so visit their website for information and the schedule.

Geology

The National Monument generally lies in the Upper Las Vegas Wash area. This is along the base of the Las Vegas Range and the Sheep Range to the north and east, and the Spring Mountains to the west. As such, the landscape is yellow mud hills interspersed with gray limestone alluvium. This area is the Las Vegas Shear Zone, but fortunately fault activity has not greatly disturbed the surface in the last 250,000 years.

 Fossil Beds
Desert Tortoise

Vegetation

Vegetation in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is typical of the interface between lower elevation Creosote-Bursage Flats and middle-elevation Mojave Desert Scrub. As such, Creosote Bush and White Bursage and a scattering of Mojave Yucca visually dominate the landscape. At the northwest end of the Monument, Shadscale Saltbush covers large areas. Other shrubs include Desert Globemallow, Nevada Jointfir, Matchweed, and Beavertail Cactus.

Wildlife

This lower-elevation area does not generally support large animals, but mule deer and bighorn sheep traverse the area when moving between mountain ranges. Other large species, such as coyote and bobcat, are present, but not often seen.

Many species of small mammals, reptiles, and birds inhabit the area. Most of the "snake holes" were made by harmless kangaroo rats. There are a few snakes, but they are rarely seen. Please respect the snakes; they lived here first. Desert tortoise are uncommon. The common lizards are side-blotched lizards and western whiptails. There are many species of birds. The most conspicuous species include Northern Mockingbirds and House Finches, but birds ranging from hawks to hummingbirds can be found in the Monument.

 Fossil Beds
Rare plant: Las Vegas Buckwheat

Getting to Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

Link to map.

The Monument lies along the north edge of the Las Vegas Valley and abuts private and public lands all along the edge. As such, almost any road that reaches desert lands along the north edge of town provides access. Perhaps the most convenient access points are North 5th Street at the east end, Decatur Blvd and the Shooting Park Road in the center-east, Floyd Lamb Park and Durango Drive in the center-west, and Corn Creek Road at the north end.

Camping

As of now, there is no camping in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. The nearest designated camping is in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Dispersed camping is available in Desert National Wildlife Range.

 Fossil Beds

Lodging, Dining, and other Facilities

As of now, there are no Lodging, Dining, or other Facilities in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. However, there are a plethora of such facilities nearby in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas.

Hours

There are no "hours," per se, but the area should be considered day use only.

Entrance Fees

None.

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, this area has a long history of use and abuse by visitors, so be careful of broken glass in shooting areas (also lead-contaminated soils) and avoid trash dumps. I know of no other special hazards, but keep in mind that this is an undeveloped area so you are on your own. In case of emergency, call 911 until the NPS establishes control over the area.

Tule Springs National Monument
Mojave Yucca and mud hills

Some Rules And Regulations

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is a National Park Service area, so all rules and regulations appropriate in a national park apply.

In particular, do not collect or otherwise disturb plants, rocks, fossils, or artifacts, and do not disturb the wildlife. Pack it in, pack it out. No off-road driving.

Pets must be on a leash (six-foot maximum) and under your physical control at all times. Never leave your pet in a vehicle because temperatures inside a car parked in the sun can exceed 120 degrees in just a few minutes, quickly cooking your pet (ditto for kids).

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Contact the Protectors of Tule Springs via their website.

Tule Springs National Monument
Durango Drive trailhead access (view ENE)
Tule Springs National Monument
Hiker in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument
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Tule Springs National Monument
Fossil eroding out of the yellow muds
Tule Springs National Monument
Trace fossils (fossilized animal burrows) litter the ground
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Tule Springs National Monument Tule Springs National Monument
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Tule Springs National Monument Tule Springs National Monument
Tule Springs National Monument Tule Springs National Monument
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Tule Springs National Monument Tule Springs National Monument

Happy hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 151015

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