Getting There and Getting Around Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is a good jumping off point for exploring Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. A car is necessary to get around the area; you can rent one at the Colorado Springs Airport if you choose to fly into Colorado. Once you’re ready to visit the fossils, head west on Highway 24 for about 50 kilometers to the town of Florissant, where you’ll find gas, a couple of restaurants and convenience stores. Woodland Park, about 25 kilometers east of Florissant, offers accommodations and more eating options.

When you arrive at the national monument, begin your trip at the visitor’s center, which features beautiful Florissant fossils, displays on the area’s geology and paleoecology, and an audiovisual presentation. During the summer, park rangers give interpretive talks and guide walking tours to a paleontology demonstration lab and an old quarry. The private Florissant Fossil Quarry (http://florissantfossils.tripod.com) is situated a few kilometers north of the monument on Teller County 1. 

The fossil beds are close to a variety of other attractions of interest to a geo-traveler. Florissant is close to the old gold mining town of Cripple Creek, where you can descend into an old mine, gamble or stroll through the historic downtown. Woodland Park hosts an interesting dinosaur museum, and Colorado Springs is home to the Cave of the Winds, the breathtaking Garden of the Gods Park, historic Colorado City and a family-oriented amusement park.

Terri Cook and Lon Abbott

Terri Cook (www.down2earthscience.com) is a science and travel writer based in Colorado and an EARTH roving correspondent. Lon Abbott is a geology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Sunday, August 7, 2011 - 06:00