There are all sorts of amazing natural treasures across the country. This is especially true in the American West and Southwest.
Colorado’s Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is one of them.
In an unassuming part of central Colorado, visitors will find one of the richest fossil deposits in the entire world. It’s certainly worth a visit, and in this post, we’re going to highlight everything you need to know about Florissant Fossil Beds.
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The park itself didn’t become a National Monument until 1969. However, the history of this area extends long beyond that. The area was once home to active volcanic activity, and one of the reasons why the park has been preserved so well is due to volcanic material landing in the area so frequently.
Geologists and explorers were first brought to the area to check out the Petrified Forest in the mid-1800s. By the 1860s and 1870s, scientists were coming to the area to excavate for fossils.
Things to Do
There are all sorts of activities to enjoy at Florissant Fossil Beds. If you’re pressed for time and want a quick tour, start in the visitor center. There you can learn about the area and history of the monument through some exhibits. Additionally, there’s a quick 15-minute movie that you can enjoy in the visitor’s center about Florissant Fossil Beds too.
Once you’re outside the visitors center, there are a couple of self-guided trails that visitors can enjoy. Along the trails, you’ll see exhibits that will help you learn more about fossils and the animals that once roamed these parts.
Beyond the self-guided trails, there are another 15 miles of hiking trails that run around the national monument. These trails appeal to visitors of all ages and abilities. The Ponderosa and Petrified Forest loops are both comfortable and range from half a mile to a mile long.
For more challenging hikes, there are some moderate loops and one-way trails to enjoy too. Some favorites include the Hornbeck Wildlife Loop, the Sawmill Trail, and the Boulder Creek Trail. Each of these run from about three to four miles long.
A number of times throughout the year, Florissant Fossil Beds teams up with the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society (CSAS) to host Night Sky Programs. These are guided stargazing events led by a park ranger that last approximately 2 hours.
Getting There and Visiting
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is not far off Highway 24 in Florissant, Colorado, which runs through central Colorado. It’s less than an hour from Colorado Springs and just under two hours from Denver.
The park is open year round except for Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day. The hour’s range from 8 am to 6 pm during summer hours, and 9 am to about 5 pm the rest of the year (check the calendar to be sure).
For those without National Park passes, the entrance fee is $7 which lasts for seven days. And, many days throughout the year offers free admission.
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