Saturday, September 26, Florissant Fossil Quarry
No participation limit
Something different, for those interested. Instead of mineral collecting, this is a scheduled LGMC field trip to collect fossils at the FLORISSANT FOSSIL QUARRY, a privately owned property adjacent to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument at Florissant, CO. There is a fee for collecting of $10/hour/person. The owner said that you can spend as much time as you want, but normally, you can find some nice specimens with only 1 hour of work.
Meet at the parking lot adjacent to the quarry entrance. DIRECTIONS: To get to the quarry, go to Colorado Springs, take Highway 24 west through Woodland Park and Divide, then another 8 miles to Florissant. The town of Florissant isn’t very large. There is only one highway branching off of Hwy 24, Teller County 1, going south in the middle of “town”. Turn south at the Thunderbird Inn, a favorite local restaurant and “watering hole”, and proceed just a short distance (1/4-mile) where you will see a small sign on your right directing you to the Florissant Fossil Quarry. Drive down this dirt road and park at the designated parking area. You can’t miss it. Walk up the steps to the check-in shed. Our group will meet there.
This area is part of an ancient lake (Eocene Age—approximately 34 million years old) that was covered with volcanic ash, thus preserving many forms of plants, insects, flowers and other life forms from that time period. The ash was interspersed with layers of clay and mud that formed “paper shales” which contains the beautifully preserved fossils. You can split apart these thin layers to reveal the fossils. The majority of fossils are leaves, but there are occasional bees, dragonflies, snails, beetles, ants, spiders, fish, and many other fascinating goodies. The quarry owners do state that any extremely rare or unusual specimen can be claimed by them. You can check out information on-line by going to FlorissantFossils@yahoo.com.
You are provided with ample pieces of “paper shale” from their quarry (collected fresh daily) that you can work on at conveniently placed picnic tables at the site. If you wish, they will provide tools to use for splitting the shale, but you might want to bring your own rock hammer (don’t need a big one), small chisel or putty knife for splitting the shale, and spray water bottle.
Depending on how long you stay, you can bring your own lunch and drinks, or there are 3 places in Florissant where you can eat. You also may want to consider driving on down Teller 1 a couple of miles to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. They have a $10 admission for anyone age 16 and older (15 and under are free). Their outdoor exhibits are open, as is their 14-mile walking trail through the Monument. You can see the gigantic petrified stumps of 34-million-year-old Redwood trees (Sequoias), plus many other sites to see and read about on the trail loop. There is also an old homesteader’s home (The Hornbeck House), that you can hike to and tour, or you can drive there and park right next to it. It’s right off the highway and you will pass it going to the entrance to the Monument. Due to the COVID-19 situation, it’s not certain whether the inside facilities (museum, gift shop, etc.), will be open to the public. Read more on the internet.
All in all, it should be a fun day of fossil collecting, viewing Colorado history and geology, or just taking a beautiful drive through the Colorado mountains. And don’t forget, this could be a peak weekend for viewing the beautiful aspen colors! Hope you can join the fun. Be sure to sign up on the Club’s website (Field Trip section), and also print out the liability forms to bring with you. If you’re going, sign up as soon as possible, as I will need to contact the quarry owner with an approximate head-count a few days before the trip.