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22 February 2019 / leggypeggy

Visiting the fossils at Florissant

Petrified giant sequoia Florissant Fossil Beds

This gives you an idea of the size of the stumps

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Part of the tourist trail at the Florissant Fossil Beds

So many people—friends and strangers—urged us to visit the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument that we absolutely had to go. We’re so glad we did.

This prehistoric park, located in central Colorado, is home to mountain meadows and rolling hills forested with ponderosa pines, spruce, fir and aspen. But these trees stand in stark contrast to the park’s main attractions—petrified giant sequoia stumps, as well as delicate insect and leaf fossils.

The stumps are all that’s left of redwoods that were up to 13 feet (4 metres) wide and more than 250 feet (76 metres) tall.

Editorial cartoon, Florissant Fossils Beds

Florissant finally protected in 1969

Tourist ad promoting Florissant Fossils Beds

Florissant promoted as a tourist destination

I was shocked to learn that it took 50 years of advocacy by scientists and others to get the fossil beds officially protected in 1969. Before then, the stumps were a novel tourist attraction with relic hunters trying to saw off moveable pieces.

Florissant Fossil Beds

Remnants of a stump lost to relic hunters

Plus, the loss of fossils was tremendous. Florissant pieces have been carted off to more than 20 US and UK museums and universities. Harvard University alone has 8000 fossil insects collected by paleontologist Samuel Scudder in the late 1800s.

In recent times, park staff inventoried and photographed more than 5000 significant fossils at 17 museums. From this, they have created a virtual museum and research database that can be viewed here.

We spent quite a while in the visitor centre, looking at their collection of fossils and listening to a retired geologist explain some of Florissant’s importance.

The monument has yielded more than 50,000 museum specimens, from more than 1700 species. They include 1500 insects, 150 plants, and one of the world’s only known fossil records of the tsetse fly, which now occurs only in equatorial Africa. It also has fossils of more known species of butterfly that any other site in the world.

After the visitor centre, we walked part of Florissant’s 14 miles of trails. It’s something you need to do at a leisurely pace. The sun is hot, there’s not a lot of shade cover and the altitude is 8500 feet above sea level.

We loved this stop and I can highly recommend adding it to your travel plans. The community of Florissant was especially good to us too, but I’ll write more about that later.

petrified stump at Florissant Fossil Beds

Relic hunters attacked this stump

petrified stump at Florissant Fossil Beds

Close up of the stump above

landscape at Florissant Fossil Beds

The landscape at Florissant Fossil Beds

53 Comments

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  1. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / Feb 22 2019 2:51 pm

    Fossils are fascinating. Such a shame about the relic hunters, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 22 2019 3:32 pm

      At least the fossils and stumps have been protected since 1969.

      Like

  2. ralietravels / Feb 22 2019 2:57 pm

    We have only read about it; perhaps the next time we get that way we can see it too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 22 2019 3:32 pm

      Well worth a stop. A special treat to have a retired geologist give more insight.

      Like

  3. gerard oosterman / Feb 22 2019 2:57 pm

    What a shame that people go and cut bits of those giant stumps. What do they do with it? Mind you, many years ago it was still allowed to clamber inside the Pyramid of Cheops which I did. Not only that, afterwards I picked up a bit of the pyramid and put it in my pocket. I had it for years but now it is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 22 2019 3:34 pm

      If you’ve ever read ‘The Innocents Abroad’ by Mark Twain, you’ll know that relic hunters have been on the loose for ages. As for your bit of pyramid, at least you didn’t chip it off. 🙂

      Like

  4. macalder02 / Feb 22 2019 3:27 pm

    People act, sometimes, irresponsibly. The photos tell us the historical value of these fossils. You have developed an article of great interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 22 2019 3:35 pm

      We were so pleased to have this place suggested to us. Thanks so much for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. efge63 / Feb 22 2019 4:33 pm

    So happy you got to take this walk! Thank you for taking us with you via your beautiful photographs!

    Have a nice weekend and thank for support me every day!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Emma Cownie / Feb 22 2019 6:39 pm

    Those giant sequoia stumps are immense. Glad that they are finally protected. I wonder how they did during the recent government shut down I as I read that the Joshua Tree Park suffered a fair bit of damage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 2:06 am

      Joshua Tree Park did suffer damage during the shutdown, but I’m guessing Florissant fared rather well. Colorado has had a lot of snow and the park is off the beaten track, so hoping all is okay.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Andrew Petcher / Feb 22 2019 8:03 pm

    Fascinating. A pity about the people who cannot leave these treasures alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. beetleypete / Feb 22 2019 8:45 pm

    What an interesting place. I like to imagine it staying much the same, long after humans have disappeared from this planet. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 2:08 am

      I think you’re right, Pete. Geology indicates that layers in this area are 34 million years old.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Eliza Ayres / Feb 22 2019 10:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal and commented:
    Fascinating… a place in America I didn’t know existed. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yeah, Another Blogger / Feb 22 2019 11:31 pm

    If I get to Colorado, this area will be on my list. Thanks Peggy. Bye till next time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 2:09 am

      Colorado has a lot going for it. We had almost a month travelling around the state and never ran out of things to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. MichaelStephenWills / Feb 22 2019 11:34 pm

    The landscape is a draw for me as are the trails. Looked it up on Google Earth and there is a Florissant Fossil Quarry 2.5 miles north on Rt 1 where do it yourself fossil collecting is possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 2:10 am

      Oh darn, now you tell me about the DYI fossil collecting. Next time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MichaelStephenWills / Feb 23 2019 2:48 am

        give google maps a try!!!!

        Like

      • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 3:10 am

        Good reminder. I use their maps regularly, but never thought to look around Florissant.

        Like

  12. America On Coffee / Feb 23 2019 12:22 am

    Amazing stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 2:10 am

      I know.

      Like

      • America On Coffee / Feb 23 2019 2:48 am

        I love archeology. I shared sn Egyptian dig find with a Professor. It was a 4,000 year old hand of a woman. I think everywhere is pre historic or a burial ground of some kind. I enjoyed your post, Peg. Happy Friday to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 3:09 am

        Wow, what an amazing find. You’re right, everywhere is historic. How deep varies.

        Like

  13. chattykerry / Feb 23 2019 4:27 am

    Wonderful, Peggy. We have some petrified wood book ends on our mantle. Teddy would love this place so will show him this post. I saw something similar north of Napa but not as spectacular.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 2:46 pm

      I hope you and Teddy get there. Colorado isn’t THAT far from Texas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • chattykerry / Feb 27 2019 4:58 am

        We have been to Colorado many times but just not this location. America is so vast!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Feb 27 2019 9:00 am

        And diverse.

        Like

  14. J.D. Riso / Feb 23 2019 9:42 am

    This reminds me of Petrified Forest in Arizona, which I love so much I visited twice. I’ll have to check this place out if I’m ever in the area. Fossils are so fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 23 2019 2:46 pm

      Fossils tell us so much about the world before us.

      Like

  15. Murray Foote / Feb 23 2019 10:59 pm

    Amazing! Never heard of this place.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. pvcann / Feb 24 2019 11:08 pm

    How amazing, so much wonderment out there – thank you for bringing it out for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 25 2019 4:49 pm

      You are most welcome. I’m glad more people are learning about this amazing place.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pvcann / Feb 25 2019 8:04 pm

        Yes, I’d never heard of it, so glad to see what you put up.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Sande Olocho / Feb 25 2019 12:15 pm

    This is an amazing place. It points to how much most of our environment has changed and continues to change. It very much relates to our struggles to stabilise and restore the nascent water sources that feed the iconic and historically significant Great Nile River.
    We are organising a marathon race to draw attention to this important ecosystem dubbed, “Save the Nile Marathon”

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 25 2019 4:51 pm

      So glad you are working hard to support the Great Nile River. I hope the marathon is a huge success. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

      Like

  18. afterthelasttime / Feb 25 2019 12:45 pm

    Nicely blogged! Visitors to Denver, 5280 feet or One Mile above sea level, are commonly reminded our sun exposure is stronger than that of Miami at sea level and far closer to the equator! Florissant is another 3220 feet closer to the sun. All visitors are highly recommended to drink water as though they are camels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 25 2019 4:52 pm

      Thanks Dave. Yes, it’s so important that people respect the intensity of Colorado’s sun.

      Like

    • Sy S. / Feb 25 2019 9:09 pm

      LP, Dave,

      Never heard of the Fossils at Florissant in Colorado… interesting place.. and at the same time reading about the people and museums destroying this area.. frowning. Never heard that Colorado and the sun can be extremely strong… having fair skin this is always a concern for me. I wonder if skiers in the mountains of Colorado have this problem, like their noses exposed to the sun and/or extreme cold/wind causing frost bite? Aside- I had frost bite of my nose once when skiing (in New England) and avoid going to Florida with the strong sun (winter and summer).

      Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Feb 26 2019 3:38 am

        You’re right, Sy, sun is also a problem for skiers in Colorado (in Australia too). Good to know your nose survived in New England.

        Like

  19. shawnthompsonart / Feb 26 2019 2:08 pm

    Very interesting park!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 26 2019 6:09 pm

      It was fascinating to see and learn about the park and its history.

      Like

  20. jeanleesworld / Mar 6 2019 1:58 pm

    This thieving of history…UGH. Reminds me of tomb raiders. Oh! I saw online recently that a man gave over his vast antique collection to the FBI, and thousands, THOUSANDS of bones were in this collection, many of them Native American bones. I don’t think this was a WI man, but I could be wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 14 2019 9:16 am

      Wow, thousands of bones! At least he turned them in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld / Mar 14 2019 10:48 am

        Well that’s the thing…I don’t think he wanted to. He was acquiescing some other stuff, and the bones were just…”discovered”??? I need to find that article.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 15 2019 7:17 am

        At least he did it.

        Like

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