DescriptionTwo miles south of Florissant on Teller CR 1, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument protects an area once covered by a prehistoric lake. As layer after layer of volcanic ash accumulated some 34 to 35 million years ago, the lake vanished, but its plant and animal life were preserved almost intact in paper-thin layers of shale. It is these fossils, dating from the Eocene period and including standing petrified sequoia stumps, that the 6,000-acre monument protects.
The visitor center houses collections of fossils and offers a variety of interpretive programs during the summer, including talks explaining the geology and paleontology of the area. Guided tours of an 1878 homestead also are offered periodically (depending on staff availability). Hiking trails provide access to the back country. Daily 8-6, June 1-Labor Day; 9-5, mid-Mar. through May 31 and day after Labor Day-Nov. 30; 9-4:30, rest of year (weather permitting). Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Phone ahead to confirm hours. Admission (valid for 7 days) $5; free (ages 0-15). Phone (719) 748-3253.