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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Hiking the Florissant Fossil Beds

I’ve lived in Colorado for nine years and just today finally went to see the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. I’ve been wanting to go for so long, but just never really took the time to do so until now.
I picked up a friend early this morning and we made the two hour drive, which was only due to the morning rush hour traffic, to the park, which sits just a few minutes drive south of the small town of Florissant, Colorado.
Besides a handful of petrified tree stumps, there’s not much left there above ground in the way of fossils. But through the years over 50,000 fossils from over 1,700 species have been collected in the area. The most prominently mentioned fossil in the brochure is that of a tsetse fly, now only found in Africa.
The fossil I found most interesting, of the few that are visible out in the park, was the petrified redwood stump that had a ponderosa pine growing out of it. It was really quite amazing to see the present grow from the past in such a fashion. It sits just a short walk south of the visitor’s center on the Ponderosa Loop Trail, and definitely worth a stop.
It was interesting to wander the Petrified Forest Loop Trail and learn what happened to the area to create so many fossilized creatures. The best part of the day though was the long hike we went on on the Sawmill and Boulder Creek Trails and the unsuccessful hunt we had for wildlife viewing. We saw plenty of elk tracks, but unfortunately no animals at all. It seemed as though it was just too late in the morning and too hot out for that to happen.
The trails were well maintained though and not overly difficult. There was a bit of up-and-down, but since we started at about 8,400 feet in elevation at the visitor’s center, it was not a disappointment to remain on relatively flat terrain throughout the day.
I believe the park is definitely worth a visit, particularly if you’re enjoying the area anyway, since the price of admission is a tiny $3 per person. It’s really hard to beat such a price right now for what could be a full day of entertainment. It really is a great time for a great value.
There is also the historic Hornbek Homestead on site. It’s unfortunate that we ran out of time to stop for a tour since it did appear to be worth a visit, especially since it’s all included as a part of the park, but just with it’s own parking lot. There did not appear to be a ranger on site there, so please continue on to the main visitor’s center to pay the required National Park Service admission for the national monument.

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