Located between Colorado Springs and Buena Vista, Florissant, Colorado is a small town home to a large assortment of incredible fossils. The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was created in 1969 to protect the historical artifacts.

1. Visitors can travel back in time and view the fossils.

While visitors can see some of the giant petrified tree stumps along some of the hiking trails, the majority of fossil exhibits are located in the Visitor Center. This includes several of the redwood tree stumps and a collection of excavated fossils of insects, fish, leaves, and some birds and mammals.

2. You can visit a Homestead House.

Adeline Hornbek Homestead - Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument - flickr - daveynin
The Adeline Hornbek Homestead in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Photo credit: daveynin (flickr)

Under the Homestead Act, a woman named Adeline Hornbek claimed land to build a house and raise her four children in the 1870s. Her property consisted of an impressive main house built of ponderosa pine logs, a milk house, chicken house, and stables. Visitors to Florissant Fossil Beds can see Adeline’s Homestead and experience what life was like for a homesteader.

3. Stop by the National Monument on designated dates for a Night Sky Program.

Throughout the summer, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument hosts a program of night-sky gazing. The program is led by a park ranger who will introduce sights visible in the night sky. Visitors can then lay back and enjoy the view of the Milky Way, star clusters, and planets.

4. Fourteen miles of hiking trails offer plentiful opportunities to explore the Monument.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument - daveynin - flickr
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Photo credit: daveynin (flickr)

Eight interconnected hiking trails offer visitors fourteen miles of paths to explore. Along the Petrified Forest Loop, hikers will pass a number of the large petrified redwood stumps. The trails all feature an easy or moderate elevation gain and range in length from a half-mile loop to a 4.6-mile out-and-back path.

5. There are ranger-guided tours.

Park rangers regularly guide tours at the National Monument beginning in mid-June and running throughout the summer. Tours include the Hornbek Homestead, the Petrified Forest Loop, and an excavation experience with a geologist.

6. There’s no camping in the National Monument, so plan to stay elsewhere.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument - Ken Lund - flickr
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Photo credit: Ken Lund (flickr)

While camping isn’t allowed within the National Monument, there are a variety of campsites, state parks, and forests in the surrounding area where camping is allowed. Check out Mueller State Park or Pike National Forest to find a spot to pitch a tent.

For more information, visit nps.gov.

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