Sloths the size of grizzly bears! American lions! Dire wolves! Saber-toothed cats! Mammoths with 6-foot tusks and teeth the size of your head! The northwest Valley’s Tule Springs was home to these prehistoric animals, and today it’s a fossil-rich area with remains ranging from 3,000 to 200,000 years old.
Once considered for housing development, the site became a protected national monument in December, and officials are in the process of putting together management and recreation plans. Meantime, visitors are welcome to park on public roads and explore the 22,650-acre swath along U.S. Highway 95 north of Aliante to Creech Air Force Base.
“It’s important to remember that all park resources—fossils, plants, animals, artifacts and rocks—are to remain as you find them, so that other visitors can experience the same sense of discovery,” Christie Vanover of the National Park Service writes. And watch your step—you could literally stumble on a giant sloth.