We’ve always known that wildlife has long inhabited the mountains and valleys surrounding Snowmass. However, it wasn’t until the recent discovery of fossilized megafauna that we found out exactly what kinds of prehistoric creatures called Snowmass home during the last ice age. Today, the Ice Age Discovery Center in Snowmass tells the captivating story of this discovery and how it changed what we know about Snowmass during the last ice age.
The Snowmastadon Find
In late 2010, a bulldozer operator working on the Ziegler Reservoir in Snowmass unearthed something unexpected. The dense mass he dug from the ground didn’t resemble rocks or mud, rather it looked like some sort of fossil. Sure enough, it was. What he had uncovered was the fossilized remains of a young Columbian mammoth.
Construction on the reservoir came to a halt and scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science arrived to begin excavating the fossil. They quickly came to realize that not only had they discovered the fossil of a young mammoth, but they had also discovered an entire fossilized ecosystem from the last ice age. They named the find: Snowmastadon.
When it was all said and done, the scientists dug up more than 36,000 fossilized bones and teeth of ice age animals large and small. The remains belonged to mammoths, mastodons, ice age camels, giant ground sloths, ice age deer, giant bison with eight foot long horns and more. Alongside the fossilized bones and teeth were incredibly well-preserved fossils of ice age plants, invertebrates, and pollens.
Today, those visiting Snowmass are encouraged to stop by the Ice Age Discovery Center (IADC) to find out what Snowmass was like during the last ice age and see what kind of treasures were uncovered in the historic Snowmastadon dig.
What You Will Find at the Ice Age Discovery Center
The Ice Age Discovery Center is an interactive experience that transports visitors back in time to Snowmass during the last ice age. Currently located in the Snowmass Mall, it features a collection of exciting fossils and fossil replicas from the Snowmastadon dig.
In addition to witnessing what came out of the dig, visitors can see how bones get preserved, watch videos about the dig, see dozens of photos from the excavation and explore panels that tell the captivating story of it.
The Ice Age Discovery Center is a must for anyone visiting Snowmass with kids. Even if you don’t have kids, a visit is sure to be highly entertaining and educational.
The best part about the experience is that it’s completely FREE.
When to visit the Ice Age Discovery Center
Summer – The IADC is open from the beginning of June until the end of September.
Winter – The IADC is open from Thanksgiving until the end of ski season in Snowmass.
Unfortunately, the IADC is not open in early spring or late fall.
When open, you can visit the IADC every day Monday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Note: Make sure to show up before 4:45 pm when the doors are locked. Those already in the IADC can browse until it closes at 5:00 pm.
The replica of an impressively intact mastodon skull found at the dig nicknamed Ms. Bumpy Head. The skull is on display in the middle of the IADC, so it is hard to miss.
If you need additional information on the Ice Age Discovery Center, please contact it directly at 970-922-2277.