Updated: Feb 6, 2022
Marathon is the closest town to Big Bend National Park’s north entrance (the Persimmon Gap Entrance and Visitor Center). Marathon offers the quickest route to many of the Park’s north and eastern most features, including the magnificent Fossil Discovery Exhibit.
There, you'll find a replica of the skull of Bravoceratops. This is a brand new dinosaur discovered in 2013 in Big Bend National Park, and named after the Rio Bravo (another name for the Rio Grande, that flows along the Park's southern perimeter).
To get there, just head south from Marathon! Big Bend National Park's Persimmon Gap Entrance and Visitor Center is just a forty minute drive from Marathon.
The Persimmon Gap Entrance is open year round, although the Visitor Center is only open seasonally.
Take your time on the drive to enjoy beautiful scenery between Marathon and the Park.
The Fossil Discovery Exhibit was added to the Park in 2017 and is located on the same road (385) going into the Park just 18 miles south of the Persimmon Gap Entrance. Don't forget, the speed limit inside of the National Park is 45 MPH on paved roads, unless otherwise noted. So take your time, and slow down to enjoy the grand landscape.
The Fossil Discovery Exhibit is an award-winning solar powered pavilion, chronicling 100 million years of geologic and environmental transformation. Its open air architecture features multiple exhibits with life size replicas of fossils that were found within the Park.
Meander through its breezy rooms and discover the Park as it was transformed from a shallow sea to a volcanic highlands environment to its present-day state over a timespan of millions of years.
Learn how scientists interpret geologic time using index fossils, and take a peek at the famed “K-Pg” boundary from a lookout site.
Gaze at replicas of real fossils found in the Park and learn about what it was like when they lived there.
Relax on numerous benches or at the shaded picnic tables.
Many of the exhibits are life-size and hands-on! Kids of all ages love to play on the kid-friendly dinosaur mock-ups located in the “Boneyard” by the picnic tables.
It’s hard for anyone to pass up the chance to touch a life size cast of a dino skull in the Gallery of Giants.
You’ll get a crash course in paleontology and learn about some of the different rock features visible in the Park. It’s a great place to pop in for a short afternoon or bring a lunch and have a picnic. There's a short hiking trail to a lookout spot. The Fossil Discovery Exhibit is wheelchair accessible and has a vault toilet on location.
The next time you stay in Marathon, enjoy a trip to the interactive Fossil Discovery Exhibit. Its exhibits are engaging to a variety of age levels and it makes a great visit all on its own or as part of a multi-stop itinerary. You can get sandwiches and other deli foods to-go from the French Co. Grocer and the V6 Cafe in Marathon to bring with you!