Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose
The small town of Glen Rose is where Texas reaches up out of the flat prairie of Fort Worth and greets its guest with scenic vistas and canyons cut by the Brazos River through the ancient limestone. It’s home to Fossil Rim Wildlife Park, an 1,800 acre park where exotic hoofstock such as giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest roam across the stunning terrain of mesquite and juniper.
A drive-through animal safari, Fossil Rim has over 50 different animals from Texas and around the world that visitors can view from their car, or on one of the guided tours. Most of the animals along the route will come running for a treat from the feed bags you can purchase at the front gate. There’s also a Children’s Nature Center, Cafe and Gift Store. In addition, they offer special events such as story time, photography workshops, camps and group events! You can even extend your stay in one of Fossil Rim’s lodging options!
Fossil Rim was recently named the 3rd Best Safari Park in the U.S. by USA Today. Click HERE to read more about it!
Our family has been visiting Fossil Rim since my children were infants, and we’ve acquired plenty of Mommy Tips through the years. Here’s my best tips, along with some information about the animals and images during different seasons.
For a self-guided tour, you’ll begin at Admissions. Park and go inside the building where you can stretch your legs, use the restroom, read about some of the activities at Fossil Rim, shop, purchase your tickets and a bag of food.
During Spring Break, they had people out with activities for children while adults waited in line to pay.
We were excited to see the new Park Entrance and Gosdin Scenic Drive! Another cool thing is that the park’s roads are now all paved, and they took out the steep decline! If you’ve been to Fossil Rim before, you know what I’m talking about!
Fossil Rim’s American Bison herd can also be seen from the front gate. You can get close enough to take a picture, but you are not allowed to feed them.
A few tips:
Go early! The animals are the hungriest (and the most friendly) early in the morning. Once their bellys are full, they’ll lie down in the warm sun on cool days, and retreat into the shade on warm ones.
After you begin the tour, you can’t go back so take your time to see everything! There is a passing lane for less patient cars to pass you.
You’ll be given a color identification chart of all the animals at Fossil Rim, and my kids love to mark off each animal as we spot them! Bring a pen!
Conserve your animal food! That first Fallow Deer you meet will be happy to eat the entire bag, but there are plenty of hungry animals along the way, and it makes for a short drive if you can’t feed them all.
The largest antelope species in Africa, the Mountain Bongo is near extinction, with only an estimated 140 in the wild. The AZA is working to increase numbers in the wild by introducing animals bred in the U.S. and Europe.
The Bongos are most active in the morning and at dusk.
My son took this picture during a tour last June. He visited Fossil Rim with the Dallas Zoos Youth Volunteer Program, which has taken trips to Fossil Rim and Dinosaur Valley State Park for the past 2 years. Click HERE to read more about the Dallas Zoo’s Volunteer Program.
The prize for friendliest goes to the abundant Fallow Deer, who will follow you for a treat! This big buck must be the independent type, as he ignored our offers and chose instead to knock acorns out of the tree with his antlers! You just never know what you might see unless you go, and take your time to stop the car and just watch the animals!
Fallow Deer and Black Buck Antelope are common on West Texas game ranches, and escapees from these ranches have thrived in the wild, and created larger and larger herds. There are now so many fallow deer in Garner State Park and South Llano State Park that they have regular hunting seasons because they complete with the native white tail deer for space and food.
These “dino-birds” need love, or at least food, too. They will happily run up to your car, but their long necks are quick to dart inside lowered windows, so we always keep them rolled up when they are nearby! When the kids were small, we had one reach inside the car and grab our entire bag of animal food, and run off with it! We watched as it pranced away, only to be chased by the other ostrich! It’s one of our favorite Fossil Rim memories!
Greater Sandhill Crane
There are always wild turkeys at Fossil Rim, but I’ve never been lucky enough to spot one of the Sandhill Cranes there. My son got this picture last summer! I think this poor bird is a little confused.
The highlight of the trip for us is seeing the giraffes, which will often include a new baby! They are one of the few animals that the park allows you to hand feed!
Usually the giraffes are out in the pasture, and will come right up to your car! During times of inclement weather, the giraffes are put up in their pen, but can still be seen from the road.
I love the zebras, which are very social when hungry, but watch out for their teeth!!
Fossil Rim is the home to 2 different zebra species, the Hartman’s Mountain Zebra and the Grevy’s Zebra, both of which are endangered in the wild.
While you can see Grevy’s Zebras in Waco at the Caldwell Zoo, and several private ranches, Fossil Rim is the only place in Texas with the Hartman’s Mountain Zebra.
Grevy’s Zebras can only be seen during an Adventure Tour.
It’s fun to feed the wildebeest, but one of my favorite moments at Fossil Rim was watching as the wildebeest herd took off running across the fields one day as we were leaving! It’s as close to an African safari as I’ll ever get!
Wildebeest babies in a herd are all born within 2 weeks of each other, to give the babies the best chance at survival. A predator will usually search out the smallest of the animals.
European Red Deer
The biggest deer at Fossil Rim, these amazing animals are similar in appearance to American Elk. Their antlers, which they shed each year, are just nubs in early Spring, covered in Velvet during the summer and they lose them in late fall after mating season, when they often fight with other bucks. During mating season, from September to the end of October, they have a distinct bugle which can be heard for miles, similar to the American Elk.
Unlike horns on a cow or goat, a male deer (buck) will lose their antlers every year, and grow a new set. When the antlers fall off, you’ll see a bloody scab where they once were. In about 3 weeks the new antlers will begin to grow in the scabbed pedicle. This fallow deer has recently lost his antlers.
Fossil Rim has a prolific Cheetah breeding program, with over 175 cubs being born since 1986. You can see the cheetah’s from the tour route, and another cheetah enclosure is located in the Intensive Management Area, which is only accessible during a behind-the-scenes tour.
Another animals that can only be viewed from your car is the Rhino, but considering how BIG these guys are, I’m okay with that!
An adult white rhino can weigh between 7,500 and 10,000 pounds.
Native Texas Animals
In addition to exotic animals from Africa and Asia, you can also see plenty of home-folk, such as white-tail deer, wild turkeys and big jackrabbits!
This buck was more than happy to come right up to the car and get a bite to eat!
Half-way through your tour, you will come up to The Overlook, which houses the Overlook Cafe, Nature Store and Children’s Nature Center! Park your car and stretch your legs!
The Overlook Cafe serves concession stand food, and there are shaded picnic tables for lunch
Children’s Nature Center
The Children’s Nature Center allows you to get VERY up close with some of Fossil Rim’s residents, like giant tortoises, goats, and this emu!
I was a little too close to him while taking this picture, and he made a low rumble sound, which was my warning to back off!
But my favorite animal in the Children’s Center is Hamlet, the Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig!
There are brushes available to use on the goats, too!
Buy Fossil Rim souvenirs at the Nature Store! In 2014, a fire destroyed the gift shop, and this new one was built and opened in 2015.
Fossil Rim offers several different tours for the entire family! We’ve done the family tour several times, and it’s a great way to learn SO much more about Fossil Rim and it’s animals, as well as hear some great stories!
Tours should be booked at least 3 days in advance.
Fossil Rim offers several different options for lodging, including a nice “hotel” type room at The Lodge, African-safari style tents for 2, and rustic bunkhouse type cabins that sleep from 5 to 13. We’ve done the WolfRidge Bunkhouse cabins twice now, and loved it both times. Once was a Girl Scout event, and we added the Morning Safari Guided Tour to it! We stayed again just as a family, when I waited too long to reserve a camping spot at Dinosaur Valley State Park, and we didn’t even tour Fossil Rim that time!
There is much more to Fossil Rim than just animals! Fossil Rim gets it’s name from the abundant fossil found here, from when North Texas was covered in a shallow sea! The Fossil Dig and Hike is just one of the Family Programs offered.
Know Before You Go
- Fill’er up in Glen Rose, surrounded by wild animals is no place to run out of gas!
- Outside food and drinks are allowed. We always take an ice chest with water, even if we intend to eat at the Overlook Cafe.
- The animals are more active earlier in the day, so try to arrive early, if possible.
- Plan to stay about 3-4 hours, longer if you are stopping to eat lunch.
- Encourage everyone to use the restroom at the front gate, before you leave on your tour.
- The Admissions Gate, Cafe and Gift Shop all accept credit cards.
- Receive a 50% off admission with a Dallas Zoo or other AZA Membership.
- Receive 2 days for 1 if you hold your receipt and come back the next day before 10am, except during the month of March.
- Pets are not allowed.
- Although the animals will come right up to your car, pack a pair of binoculars to see other animals. The kids will love using them!
- Convertibles are allowed, and guest can ride in the back of pick-up trucks during the tour, however Jeeps without doors or full soft-sided doors are not allowed.
More To Do in Glen Rose
Dinosaur World is a terrific place for your little paleontologist! Life-sized dinosaurs inhabit the forest of Dinosaur World, which you can view from a mile long walking path, but that’s just the beginning of all the fun. Click HERE to read more.
Canoe or Tube the Brazos River! Canoe and tube rentals, as well as shuttles to the river, are available from Rhodes Canoe Rentals, Cash only. Hwy 67 E, Glen Rose
Storiebook Cafe has a great kids play area, good food and walls covered in books! Click HERE to visit their facebook page.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
2299 County Road 2008, Glen Rose
Click HERE to visit their website.
Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!
Having Fun in the TEXAS Sun is on PINTEREST! Use it as a quick resource to find activities in different Texas towns! Click HERE!
© Having Fun in the Texas Sun , 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Having Fun in the Texas Sun with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.