Avoid the Crowds: Visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado!

Last summer, during an epic, seven-state road trip, our family stopped to visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument for the first time.

In case you aren’t familiar with Colorado during the summer months, both the traffic and the hiking trails are densely crowded. But, those of us who love those mountains are willing to seek peace in the quieter corners of the state.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument turned out to be a hidden gem of Colorado’s public lands!

Where is Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument?

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is situated in central Colorado, near the town of Florissant. It’s located approximately 35 miles west of Colorado Springs. Due to dense, summer traffic, it will likely take about an hour to reach the monument.

Florissant Fossil Beds offers families a chance to explore ancient fossil deposits and picturesque natural surroundings.

Florissant Fossil Beds

Two of our favorite, small towns in Colorado are Woodland Park and Buena Vista. Florissant is somewhere in between and hidden from the main highway’s view.

It is quiet and peaceful, and the stillness begs you to bring a picnic and stay awhile.

Although this was our first visit, I am confident that it will become an annual tradition as we drive Highway 24 in all of its summer glory!

What is Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument?

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a protected area renowned for its remarkable fossil deposits that provide a glimpse into ancient life around 34 million years ago during the Eocene epoch.

The monument showcases an exceptional collection of fossilized plants, insects, and petrified redwood stumps, remarkably preserved in shale and mudstone layers. The fossils found here offer insights into prehistoric environments and ecosystems that existed during that era.

Florissant Fossil Beds

Whether you want to explore a buffet of fossils at the visitor center or you want to view the grand remains of petrified wood, the specimens and stories are sure to impress!

FLorissant Fossil Beds

Visitors can explore the monument through guided tours, hiking trails, and educational programs. There is a park movie as well as numerous rangers to guide you along.

What is there to do at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument?

At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, visitors enjoy various activities taking them on journeys into our natural history. Some of the popular activities include:

Fun at Florissant Fossil Beds
  1. Fossil Viewing: Tour the fossil beds and observe exceptionally preserved fossils of ancient plants, insects, and petrified redwood stumps dating back millions of years.
  2. Hiking: Explore scenic trails like the Petrified Forest Loop or the Hornbek Wildlife Loop. Both offer opportunities to enjoy the surrounding landscapes, diverse flora, and occasional wildlife sightings. There are a total of 14 miles of hiking trails, and none is dense with visitor traffic! Check out the hiking trail guide.
  3. Ranger-Led Programs: Participate in guided tours or educational programs led by park rangers. They provide insights into the monument’s geological formations, fossil discoveries, and ecological significance.
  4. Visitor Center: Visit the visitor center to view exceptionally curated, interative exhibits and displays! Between these and the fossil specimens, children and adults alike will go on an educational journey whether they intend to or not!
  5. Picnicking: Enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst the natural beauty of the monument at designated picnic areas.
  6. Photography: Capture the stunning landscapes and fossilized remains, perfect for photography enthusiasts.
  7. Junior Ranger Program: Engage kids in the Junior Ranger Program! It offers numerous educational activities and opportunities to learn about fossils and the environment while earning a Junior Ranger badge.

These activities cater to a range of interests, providing a blend of educational, recreational, and nature-centric experiences for visitors of all ages at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

FLorissant Fossil Beds

Is Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument Fun for Kids?


Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument offers an array of engaging and educational experiences that can be incredibly fun for kids. The monument’s fossil beds provide a fascinating glimpse into prehistoric life. They showcase ancient plants, insects, and petrified redwood stumps that kids often find captivating.

There are ranger-led programs specifically designed for younger visitors, including interactive tours, hands-on activities, and the Junior Ranger Program. These activities allow kids to learn about fossils, geology, and the environment in an engaging and entertaining way.

Florissant Fossil Beds

Moreover, the park’s trails offer opportunities for exploration and adventure, allowing kids to hike amidst scenic landscapes, observe wildlife, and enjoy the outdoors.

Kids at Florissant Fossil Beds

Additionally, the visitor center, indoor and outdoor, offers displays and an important learning hub for children interested in science and history.

Florissant Fossil Beds Junior Ranger

Overall, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument provides a blend of educational and recreational activities that make it not only informative but also incredibly enjoyable and fun for kids of various ages.

Florissant Fossil Beds Junior Ranger

What else is there to do near Florissant, Colorado?

With its close proximity to Colorado Springs, there are endless opportunities to learn, hike, recreate, and enjoy the outdoors.

Families visiting near Florissant, Colorado, have plenty of exciting activities to explore:

  1. Pikes Peak: Take a scenic drive or ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the summit for breathtaking panoramic views and family-friendly hikes amidst stunning landscapes.
  2. Cripple Creek: Visit this historic mining town to experience the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, museums, and family-friendly attractions like the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine tour.
  3. Mueller State Park: Enjoy outdoor adventures like hiking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and camping in this beautiful state park with family-friendly trails and scenic vistas. Note this this is a beloved Colorado State Park, and we highly suggest that our camping friends consider this as a homebase when visiting the region!
  4. Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center: Encounter rescued wolves, foxes, and other wildlife species, and participate in educational tours and programs suitable for families. I still remember the lessons I learned visiting this facility several years ago. It is rare to see a wolf in the wild, so this is a great opportunity for kids to learn about and appreciate these animals.
  5. Fishing and Boating: Engage in fishing and boating activities at nearby lakes such as Eleven Mile State Park and Rampart Reservoir, perfect for family outings.
  6. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center: Explore exhibits of dinosaur fossils, skeletons, and interactive displays, providing an educational and fun experience for families. This is a great pairing to the geological history of Florissant Fossil Beds.
  7. U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum: This facility was a huge hit with my daughter. It is a great way to dig more deeply into our appreciation of our athletes and the excellence they represent. It is one of my top picks for a rainy day!

These attractions near Florissant, Colorado, cater to diverse interests and offer engaging experiences that families can enjoy together while creating lasting memories.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in central Colorado is a treasure trove of ancient wonders, showcasing exquisitely preserved fossils from over 34 million years ago.

Engaging ranger-led programs and educational tours provide insights into paleontology and the monument’s geological significance, while scenic trails invite exploration amidst picturesque landscapes.

This monument offers a unique blend of educational opportunities, natural beauty, and ancient fossils, making it a must-visit destination for all ages.