Florissant Fossil Beds

Florissant Fossil Beds

Why You Should Visit the Florissant Fossil Beds in Colorado

If you are looking for a unique and fascinating destination for your next vacation, you might want to consider the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado. This place is not only a natural wonder, but also a treasure trove of ancient history and science. Here are some reasons why you should visit the Florissant Fossil Beds and what you can expect to see and do there.

What are the Florissant Fossil Beds?

The Florissant Fossil Beds are a sedimentary formation that preserves the fossils of plants and animals that lived in the Florissant valley about 34 million years ago. The fossils are so well-preserved that you can see the details of leaves, flowers, insects, fish, birds, and even mammals. Some of the most remarkable fossils include petrified redwood stumps that are up to 14 feet wide and thousands of insect specimens that reveal the diversity and complexity of life in the past.
The fossils were formed by a series of volcanic eruptions that buried the valley in ash and mud, creating a lake that became a perfect environment for fossilization. Over time, the lake dried up and the fossils were exposed by erosion. The fossils were discovered by local settlers and scientists in the late 19th century and have been studied ever since. In 1969, the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was established to protect and showcase this amazing site.

How to get there?

The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is located in central Colorado, about 35 miles west of Colorado Springs and 100 miles south of Denver. You can get there by car, following the US Highway 24 and the Teller County Road 1. The monument is open year-round, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The entrance fee is $10 per person or $20 per vehicle.

What to see and do there?

There are plenty of things to see and do at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, whether you are interested in nature, history, or science. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Visit the visitor center, where you can learn more about the geology, paleontology, and history of the monument through exhibits, films, and ranger programs. You can also see some of the most impressive fossils on display, such as a giant turtle shell, a four-foot-long fish, and a saber-toothed cat skull.
  • Hike on one of the 14 miles of trails that wind through the meadows, forests, and hills of the monument. You can enjoy the scenic views, the wildlife, and the wildflowers, as well as see some of the petrified redwood stumps along the way. The trails range from easy to moderate in difficulty and length, and are suitable for all ages and abilities.
  • Join a guided tour, where you can explore the fossil beds with a ranger or a volunteer and learn more about the fossils and their stories. You can also participate in hands-on activities, such as digging for fossils, making fossil casts, or identifying fossils. The tours are offered daily during the summer and on weekends during the spring and fall.
  • Experience the night sky, where you can marvel at the stars, planets, and constellations that are visible from the monument. The monument hosts regular night sky programs in partnership with the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society, where you can use telescopes and binoculars to observe the celestial objects. The programs are free and open to the public, but require reservations.

Why you should visit the Florissant Fossil Beds?

The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a place where you can experience the beauty and wonder of nature, the mystery and excitement of science, and the history and culture of the people who lived and worked there. It is a place where you can connect with the past, the present, and the future, and discover how life has changed and evolved over millions of years. It is a place that will inspire you, educate you, and entertain you. It is a place that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.


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