Diggin' in the Past

Exhuming the ghosts of gone-by eras is a worthy pastime in South Dakota. Those of a prehistoric nature are all over this paleontologist's paradise. Badlands National Park (tel. 605/433-5361; www.nps.gov/badl) is a veritable fossil free-for-all. It's known to be one of the world's richest deposits of millions-year-old remains, like saber-tooth tigers, three-toed horses, and sheep-like creatures called oreodonts. The Mammoth Site (tel. 605/745-6017; www.mammothsite.com) in Hot Springs holds the remains of 52 (to date) woolly mammoths who came to drink in what looked like a nice, quenching pond, but ended up drowning in this former sinkhole 26,000 years ago. You can take a guided tour, and budding Ross Gellers can participate in a mock excavation. If you're more interested in beings that walk on two legs rather than four, check out the Prehistoric Indian Village and Archedome, 3200 Indian Village Rd., Mitchell (tel. 605/996-5473; www.mitchellindianvillage.org), which was home to a 1,000-year-old Native American tribe, and is now a combination museum and active archeological dig site open to the public.

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