It’s hard to imagine, but prides of Ice Age lions and herds of bison once mingled with gargantuan mammoths, dire wolves and saber tooth cats, and the evidence lies on land 30 minutes north of the Las Vegas Strip. For nearly a quarter-million years — until around 7,000 years ago — this arid desert wash was a lush wetland, home to some of the most massive and unusual species ever to walk the continent. The national monument preserves where the wild things were, a place of intrigue for the kid in all of us.

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