Note- It is named "Florissant Fossil Beds", NOT "Fluorescent Fossil Beds". Florissant is a french word for "flowering"; the fossils do not glow.

Day: 8
Miles: 1,434
Location: Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and Garden of the Gods Park
Three fossilized redwoods in central Colorado
So I'm actually ahead of schedule in my adventures by a whole day. Not only that, but I'm 8 for 8 in things I've wanted to do; this never happens! Anyways, after an arduous climb of Mt. Elbert, I wanted to have a more relaxing day. It was going to snow hard at the higher elevations, anyways. I pointed the car eastwards and ended up in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

The ever-so-helpful Park Rangers were eager to have visitors and showed me all the neat fossils and trails. Its hard to believe this high and arid region of Colorado once was a thriving Redwood forest, but that's exactly what the monument preserves. In an interesting twist of natural history, there was a Redwood Forest teaming with life 34 million years ago and it was preserved in the most interesting of ways. A nearby volcano had a fierce eruption which covered the surrounding area in a volcanic layer (for lack of a better word). So essentially, the stumps of the redwoods were preserved while the tops died off. Also, the ancient lake was covered in volcanic ash, which basically preserved all the insects, plants and fish that were in it at the time. For a more academic explanation, please actually visit the monument!
Very well preserved fossils
Anyways, what you should really know is that this is one of the most diverse and abundant fossil records in the World. Its been called "The Rosetta Stone" of fossils for the time period and specimens recovered here can be found in museums across the country and world. Best of all, its a national park, so anyone can see it! We take for granted how absolutely incredible it is that our country preserves such sites for anyone to see.

I happened to be there on "Junior Ranger Day"! It was so endearing to see young people enjoying the national park and having fun with all of its activities. If I ever have kids, they will become Junior Rangers as soon as they can walk. On a related note, one family brought their 8 month-old infant to the park, and it was his first!
Massive petrified redwood trunks
I hiked as much as my sore body could take and then headed off to Colorado Springs! The Garden of the Gods has to be one of the most epic "city parks" in the country. How many other city parks have multi-pitch rock climbing listed as "activities"? This place was the Joshua Tree of Colorado Springs with limitless climbing opportunities. Unfortunately this also meant there were limitless crowds. I'm always happy to see people enjoying nature, but crowded parks are just not my style. Also, it was unfortunate to be in a place with such tantalizing climbs without a speck of gear! Oh well, I guess its just somewhere to come back to!
Climbers Paradise at Garden of the Gods
It's Easter Eve! I will be spending Easter Day with family and taking a well deserved break from climbing. But don't worry, after Easter, its more Rocky Mountain climbing for me in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Tetons, and Yellowstone!