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Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

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South Central Colorado : Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
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Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument [1] is a United States National Park in the south central region of Colorado. It is known for a large abundance of Eocene Epoch fossils, ranging from imprints of twigs and seeds in shale to massive ancient fossilized Sequoia tree stumps which can be more than 40 feet in diameter. Unlike many national parks, Florissant Fossil Beds operates on standard business hours, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM in the Summer months, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM in the Fall, Winter, and Springs months.

Understand[edit]

"Florissant" is French for "flowering" or "flourishing".

History[edit]

Landscape[edit]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Climate[edit]

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Take US Highway 24 west from Colorado Springs for 30 miles to the small town of Florissant, then turn south on Teller County Road 1 for 2 miles. The road runs through the middle of the park.

By plane[edit]

  • Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS) [2] Located 46 miles away in Colorado Springs.

Fees/Permits[edit]

Each person is required to pay a $3 fee, good for 7 days. A Local Passport may be purchased for $15, good for the whole year.

Get around[edit]

Most of the park is accessible by well maintained trails.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Visitor Center. Inside are shelves with real fossils on display. A short orientation film entitled "Shadows of the Past" is played often.
  • Amphitheater. Where most of the ranger talks are given, a trio of petrified stumps and one lone stump are on display.
  • Hornbek Homestead. Five buildings are inpeccably preserved, the result of hard work by Adeline Hornbek, one of the many women who took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862.

Do[edit][add listing]

Hiking[edit]

There are 15 miles of hiking trails in the park.

  • Petrified Forest Loop. This easy 1 mile loop leads through the ancient bed of Lake Florissant. Multiple petrified stumps are on the side of the trail, including the most famous, the Big Stump (38 feet around). A 0.1 mile side trip leads to the Scudder excavation pit, where paleontologists are extracting fossils from the exposed shale to this day.
  • Ponderosa Loop. Wheelchair accessible 0.5 mile trail leading through the modern forest, passing by many culturally modified trees (bark removed by Native Americans for food).

Ranger Programs[edit]

  • Ranger Programs. Depending on the time of year (Summer being the busiest time) and staffing, ranger talks are given on the history of the area, as well as guided nature walks around the park.
  • Junior Ranger Program. Children ages 6-11 can complete a Junior Ranger booklet and receive either a badge or patch as a reward. The booklet has many activities about the park and its history. Although mostly for children, any age can complete the program.

Buy[edit][add listing]

The visitor center has the usual history books, games, clothes, children's activities, among other things.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are 3 picnic areas in the park: one near the visitor center; the Barksdale Picnic Area off of Lower Twin Rock Road; and at the Hornbek Homestead.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Several vending machines near the visitor center offer a variety of soft drinks.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There in only one non-affiliated place to sleep in the park, and no places in the town of Florissant.

Lodging[edit]

Plenty of lodges are located in the nearby towns of Cripple Creek, Woodland Park, and others.

  • Christ Haven Lodge. [3] Located inside the park.

Camping[edit]

The nearest place to camp would be Mueller State Park or the Pike National Forest, flanking the park to the East and West.


Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

Continuing south 18 miles on County Road 1 will lead to the city of Cripple Creek, a popular town rich with gold mining history and gambling casinos.


Routes through Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
MinturnBuena Vista  W noframe E  Manitou SpringsColorado Springs


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