In the small town of Fritch, population 2,117, you can find a national monument with an extensive history and a colorful appearance. The Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is a preservation of nearly 1,000 acres of a quarrying site used by precontact Native Americans. There are 700 stone quarries included in the canyons and mesas of this national monument that were used over a 13,000 year span where the people of prehistoric times collected and used the Alibates flint found in the area to make scrappers, knives, points, and more.
A tribe of Native Americans known as the Plains Village Indians, ancestors of the Caddo, Pawnee, and Wichita tribes, formed alongside the Canadian River valley near the quarry site sometime between 1150 and 1450. Historians believe even before the formation of the Great Lakes of North America, people of the Ice Age era used the flint to hunt large animals including Imperial Mammoths.
This stone is distinctive to the variety of colors it appears with. Its hues range in color and have varying patterns that are created by the layering of colors on the stone. While it is located in a 10-square-mile region surrounding Lake Meredith, most of the flint is concentrated in a single area atop 60 acres of a mesa found at the heart of the monument. The stone was used because of its durability and capacity to maintain a solid edge. It has been found in a broad range of places located in the United States ranging from the Southwest, the Great Plains, Montana and as far east as the Mississippi River.
Visit this National Monument and see what it has to offer. Guided quarry tours are occasionally offered, but you can always take a self-guided hike on the Mesquite trail which takes you around a small mesa. You could also visit the Alibate Interpretive Garden where you can receive a brochure that guides you through a tour visiting the butterfly garden, and the xeriscaping, Native American cultivated plants, medicinal, edible & useful, and the Alibates vineyard sections of the garden. This brochure also includes information about the different areas of the garden and lists the different kinds of plants you may see depending on the season.
Take a walk around the visitor center to interact with exhibits, see what to read at the bookstore, and see the award winning film showcasing the Alibates National Quarries in the theater. The visitor center also offers live demonstrations and tours led by certified rangers. Enter your little ones into the junior ranger program offered at the visitor center for both Alibates and Lake Meredith or get your passport stamped at the NPS passport cancellation station that has both stamps for the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument and Lake Meredith Recreation Area.
Interested in doing a little exploring? Jump in the car and head to Bates Canyon where you can access a now dry part of Lake Meredith and search the heavy undergrowth of the boat ramp for wildlife. You can also camp out in the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area and fish, hike, hunt, or even horseback ride! Be sure to try out all the other activities including bird watching, swimming, and boating.
Map from Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument to AW Broadband:
Map from Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument to National Mule Memorial: