Colorado’s natural landscape has evolved over the course of millions of years. The land was once inhabited by a variety of dinosaurs and diverse plant life, including enormous redwoods. However, a series of volcanic eruptions altered the landscape forever. A few places remain around Colorado that allow today’s inhabitants to catch a glimpse into that Colorado of old. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is one of these places.
The Florissant Fossil Beds house the remains of a once large redwood forest, the Florissant Fossil Beds. Visitors to the area are able to see petrified redwood trunks from an estimated 34 million years ago. There are roughly 30 petrified stumps on the site, one of which has a massive 41-foot circumference.
By looking at the rings in the stump, experts estimate that many of the trees were 500-700 years old when they were covered and preserved in rock, mud, and ash from the eruption of nearby Guffey Volcano.
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It’s suspected that these trees were roughly 200 feet tall prior to mudflow suffocating their root systems.
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This destination is also known for being home to exceptionally preserved fossils of plant life and insects from the same era thanks to the type of mudstone and shale found there. During a tour of the land, visitors are invited to stop into the informational center to see a few of the fossils representative of what can be found on site.
If you’d like to take a tour of the petrified stumps and the rest of the area, there are over 14 miles of trails at this national monument. This includes a mile-long loop that takes you past the main attractions during a casual stroll.
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