Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument & Pikes Peak
Monday, July 20, 2015
Today we drove down through the mountains to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. The direct route was on the interstate. I thought the mountains would be more scenic. They were, but it took a lot longer. First, Google Maps did a bait and switch. It gave me three options with the mountain route being the last. I took it and we started off. I was having some trouble getting the vehicle bluetooth audio working, so we pulled over. When we pulled back out, we were on the interstate route, and Google Maps no longer showed the mountain route! So we got to the mountains the old fashioned way with just the map. Then we hit a four to five mile stretch in the steepest (15 degree) section with only a gravel road. So instead of the 1.5 hour interstate route, we ended up taking about 2.5 hours to get there.
The fossil beds were created by a volcanic eruption around 35 million years ago. The lava/mud flow wiped out a large redwood forest, and today the huge, fossilized stumps of the redwoods can be seen on about a 1 mile hike. You also see lots of plant, insect and small animal fossils in the visitor center. And of course the usual short video. Rainstorms were threatening so we didn't try the longer hikes.
Here's a couple of maps of the national monument.
At the end of the valley, there's a homestead that was created about 1872 by a single mother, the Hornbeck Homestead. Here are some shots of the homestead.
It was a 19 mile drive. We didn't do the planning, so we didn't really have the choice of taking the cog train up to the peak. The threatening clouds were getting bad, so we didn't stop on the way up. Here's a map of the route.
Have a good day.