Try Florissant as a Prime Weekend Getaway
By Catherine Mahroholz
As always, summer seems to be slipping away all too fast. For a fun filled day with family, by yourself or with a friend or two, consider a drive out to Florissant, located conveniently in our backyard in Teller County.
The air up here, although thinner, is cool and refreshing and what follows are just a few of the attractions to consider when planning a day trip or a weekend getaway to the Pikes Peak region.
The Florissant Fossil Beds incorporates a large area of land with many trails to choose from. The hiking is easy and takes visitors through rolling grass land, amid Ponderosa Pines and other vegetation native to this area. The Florissant Fossil Beds are located just two miles off Hwy. 24. A good landmark to watch for is the Thunderbird Inn, a restaurant and bar that was established in the latter half of the 1900s.
When heading west on Hwy 24 from the Colorado Springs area, turn left (south) on Teller CR 1, or if coming from the Buena Vista area of Colorado, eastbound on Hwy 24, turn right (south) onto Teller CR 1 towards Cripple Creek, Colorado. This area was once part of a lake 34-36 million years ago. It was set aside as a National Monument to preserve the area. It is a prime spot for fossils and even petrified Giant Sequoia tree stumps, a type of Redwood tree. They were growing where the enormous stumps still stand today.
In our time, living Redwood trees are found only along the northwest coast of California.The Hornbeck Homestead Historical Site is part of the Florissant Fossil Beds as well. part of the Florissant Fossil Beds as well. It is an example of how early settlers and ranchers lived back in the 1800s.
In addition to the friendly helpful staff, the Visitor’s Center at the Fossil Beds has an Interpretive Center where children of all ages and adults too, can interact with some of the displays or read and learn about what the Florissant Fossil Beds have to offer. Recently my husband and I attended a Bird Walk at the Florissant Fossil Beds and we now have a renewed appreciation for the birds and other wildlife that populate the Fossil Beds and the nearby National Forest in the Florissant area.
With all of the rain in recent weeks due to Monsoon Season, the area is particularly lush and green with an abundance of wildflowers. Rain is still in the forecast, but as the saying goes for Colorado, “just wait 15 minutes and the weather will change.” For those of you 62 or older, as of this writing, the Senior Lifetime Pass is just $10. On Aug. 28,2017, the price will increase to $80. It must be emphasized that this is a one-time fee. For Senior Passes, ten bucks goes to the Fossil Beds and 70 bucks goes to a general maintenance fund for all National Parks. And funds generated by the fee collected at the Florissant Fossil Beds will stay local and will be of enormous benefit to the preservation and maintenance of the Fossil Beds.
If learning about the fossils in the area excites you, consider a visit to the nearby Florissant Fossil Quarry. This is a family run business, open daily during the summer months for on-site collecting.
For a small fee, and a short walk, visitors to the Florissant Fossil Quarry can have access to piles of sandstone, already excavated, where small slabs can be split to potentially reveal a fossilized leaf or insect. Rock hammers and other tools are provided. Adults, children and teens alike can spend an hour o more and perhaps find a special souvenir of a plant or insect that lived here so many millions of years ago. FlorissantFossils@yahoo.comor 719-748-3275
Also nearby, is a gift shop called Natures Wealth. Here rock hounds and aspiring geologists and archeologists can find an array of local minerals, crystals, fossils and specimens from the far corners of the earth as well. 719-748-3805.
Lastly, to conclude your exploration of the Florissant area, consider browsing the Pikes Peak Historical Society Museum. In addition to local history and lore, the museum boasts an astounding array of mineral specimens from the Pikes Peak region. The museum also features a gift shop with books, jewelry and other items suitable as souvenirs of a visit to the town of Florissant here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.