Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a United States National Monument 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, 8AM to 6PM in the Summer months, 9AM to 5PM in the Fall, Winter, and Springs months.
"Florissant" is French for "flowering" or "flourishing".
Flora and fauna
|Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
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.
- Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS) is 46 mi (74 km) away in Colorado Springs.
Fees and permits
Entrances fees are valid for seven days, allowing unlimited re-entry for the week. Fees as of 2020 are:
- $10 - Individuals 16 years old or older
- $35 - Florissant Fossil Beds Annual Pass
There are several passes for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot/bike that provide free entry to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and all national parks, as well as some national monuments, national wildlife refuges, and national forests:
- The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. Military personnel can obtain a free pass by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
- The $80 Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. Applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
- The free Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
- The free Volunteer Pass is available to individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.
- The free Annual 4th Grade Pass (valid for September-August of the 4th grade school year) allows entry to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid Outdoors website is required.
The National Park Service offers free admission to all national parks on five days every year:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January); next observance is January 18, 2021
- The first day of National Park Week (third Saturday in April); next observance is April 17, 2021
- The National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
- National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September); next observance is September 26, 2020
- Veterans Day (November 11)
Most of the park is accessible by well maintained trails.
- 1 Florissant Fossil Beds Visitors Center, 15807 Teller County Road 1. 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.
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. Depending on the time of year (Summer being the busiest time) and staffing, ranger talks are given on the history of the area, as are 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.
The visitor center has the usual history books, games, clothes, children's activities, among other things.
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.
Several vending machines near the visitor center offer a variety of soft drinks.
There in only one non-affiliated place to sleep in the park, and no places in the town of Florissant.
- Christ Haven Lodge. Located inside the park.
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|
|Minturn ← Buena Vista ←||W E||→ Manitou Springs → Colorado Springs|