Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
is located in a mountain valley just west of Pikes Peak
and holds spectacular remnants of the earth's prehistoric life. Huge petrified redwoods
and incredibly detailed fossils
of ancient insects and plants reveal a very different landscape in Colorado
of long ago. Almost 35 million years ago, enormous volcanic
eruptions buried the then-lush valley and petrified the redwood trees that grew there (See Thirtynine Mile volcanic field
). A lake formed in the valley and the fine-grained sediments at its bottom became the final resting-place for thousands of insects and plants. These sediments compacted into layers of shale
and preserved the delicate details of these organisms as fossils. Many of the insect species found therein were described by the entomologist Theodore Cockerell
. The Florissant Fossil Beds were set aside as a part of the National Park System in 1969.
"When the mountains are overthrown and the seas uplifted, the universe at Florissant flings itself against a gnat and preserves it."-- Dr. Arthur C. Peale, Hayden Expedition Geologist, 1873. Florissant means Flowering in French, and Florissant fossil Beds National monument is notable for its beautiful plant life.