Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

As you stroll across the gently rolling, grassy plains at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, it is difficult to imagine the forest of giants or the ancient lake that once covered the mountain valley.

Over 1,700 fossils of different plant and animal species have been discovered in the rich deposits that cover Florissant Fossil Beds. From giant Sequoias to delicate leaves, fish, birds, insects, and spiders, these fossils give scientists an idea of what North America was like 34 million years ago.

Visitors today might catch a glimpse of the abundant range of wildlife, including elk and pronghorn, salamanders, eagles, and bobcats.

Florissant Fossil Beds also reflects a long history of human habitation, including Paleo Indian and Archaic peoples, the Ute Nation to homesteaders and settlers in the 1860s. Visitors can explore the Hornebeck ranch, built in 1878 and owned by Adeline Hornbek, a rancher and single mother of four teenaged children.

—Ann Froschauer

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