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We’re kicking off the Texas Bucket List series with a little gem close to home- Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose. Looking for a staycation near DFW or an exciting day trip with the family? At the gates of beautiful Texas Hill Country, Fossil Rim brings you up close and personal with so many majestic animals you don’t get to experience in a typical zoo setting.
Imagine leaning out your car window to feed a gentle giraffe or watching a cheetah sun itself in the tall grass. You’ll feel like you’re cruising through the Serengeti on safari without a passport stamp and no jet lag from a thirty hour travel day. (Winning!)
How to Visit
There are a few options for visiting Fossil Rim and seeing all their cute animals. You can either drive your own car through the park, go on one of their hosted buses, or opt for the guided behind-the-scenes tour. Find out more details about the group tour options here to find works best for you and your crew!
You can buy your tickets ahead of time online or get them at the park. Inside the main office you can buy animal feed and get your free guide map. I definitely recommend doing a safari tour to learn from the guides who know the animals and where their usual hangouts are. The animals also recognize the guides and are likely to come say hi!
Fossil Rim is a giant conservation, so the animals aren’t in tiny cages right next to the road. These creatures roam around as if they were in the wild. They come close to your car because they know you have food and are more than willing to hand it over to’em.
(Read: the ostrich is a little bit creepy and came out of nowhere
to demand food and his stare will haunt my dreams forever)
Fun for the Kids
Wyatt (3) and Jep (1) LOVE seeing all the animals up close, especially when the giraffe leans into the sunroof of our Suburban to eat from the palm of their hand. They were legit squealing with glee and it was a total mom win!
About halfway through the nine mile drive there’s a lookout point with clean restrooms (including a family bathroom with changing table). There’s even a place to rinse your feet off, which would be super convenient if your toddler has a bad blowout and you need to hose them down. (I know you were totally thinking that’s what it was for, too!)
The gift shop has tons of cute stuffed animals, little t-shirts, snacks, the usual. Next door you’ll see the Overlook Cafe- burgers, sandwiches and salads, and of course the good ol’ PB&J for that picky toddler. The view from this halfway point is breathtaking because you can see the park below you and it’s like you’re looking out over the savanna in West Africa.
There are picnic tables and some nice areas to eat a packed lunch, too. Perfect pit stop to get out, stretch your legs, and get diapers changed for the little ones!
Must See: Fossil Rim Children’s Animal Center
This is a huge hit with the boys! Right next to the gift shop you’ll see the Children’s Animal Center (CAC). There are goats to brush and pet, giant tortoises, and an emu named Einstein. Pearl the cockatoo will say “hello” if you’re sweet to her. (She’s a doll!)
If you can’t swing the full scenic drive through the park, you can pull off County Road 2009 and visit the Animal Center and Overlook with no charge.
Go Behind the Scenes
I love how many little gems of information are given about the animals both at the Children’s Center and on the map they give you on the self-guided drive. There are tons of class options to visit as a homeschooling group or just a group of friends ready to learn more about these beautiful animals!
You can learn more about the Cheetahs, (there’s a big portion of Fossil Rim dedicated to these big cats since they’ve been a leader in conservation of them since 1985). Dive deep into the Savannah ecosystem and how it works. Go for a nature hike and learn about nature journaling. Hunt for fossils (ya know, it’s called “Fossil” rim after all!). So many other classes, camps, and excursions led by the expert staff that knows the animals best.
To find out more about classes, camps, and homeschool group info just go here. If you’re in the DFW area and want to plan a mama meet up, let us know!
Stay on the Savannah
Did you know you can stay overnight in the park? You can really get the full experience and immerse yourself in that African Savannah feel. There’s a big lodge, Safari Cabins, and Bunkhouses to choose from- the lodge and cabin options also include a free, hot breakfast in the morning and a free pass for the park.
You can also get a free behind the scenes early morning safari guided tour from one of the park experts. How cool would it be to wake up in the morning and see the animals starting their day? And also…breakfast. You can go here to find out more about planning your overnight visit at Fossil Rim.
On over 1,800 acres at the gateway to Texas Hill Country, Fossil Rim has over 50 unique species of animals. Most of these precious creatures are noted as threatened or endangered in the wild. The Wildlife Center’s mission is to continue conservation breeding, research, and education. After our visit I’d say they’re fully embodying that mission and all of the animals looked like they would if they’re in a natural habitat. The grazing animals and hoof stock live in herds identical to as if they were in the wild. Some animals are even reintroduced to the wild if they’re ready and rehabilitated, or they’re re-homed to zoos all over the nation.
You can read more about conservation efforts in detail here.
Where the Wild Things Are
Fossil Rim is great for all ages, but I’d say Wyatt (3) had the best time out of both boys. I’m a fan of bringing babies along for experiences, but the drive and animal feeding is perfect for toddler’s and up. If you have a tiny baby, cruising the scenic drive with the windows down would be great to get out of the house (and for mama and daddy to get a little mini-vacay time!).
Staying overnight is on our list for sure, so if you’ve already gone- how was it? Have you visited Fossil Rim before? Tell me in the comments what your favorite highlight was, or what you hope to see when you plan your visit.
Happy Safari driving, friend! xx