After visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park, we tried to find the best way to head up toward Nebraska on a Colorado state map. When we travel, we usually like to take side roads as opposed to major interstate highways unless we are pressing for time. When we saw Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument on the map, instead of cutting across on 160 and taking 25 straight up, we decided to take 285 then cut across on 24 to 25. We have never heard of Florissant Fossil Beds but the name ‘fossil’ intrigued us; we decided to explore it and maybe we could find some fossils.
We got to the Visitor Center and saw some fossils and petrified wood on displays. We thought we may have hit a jackpot with both rare forms of rocks. However soon we were disappointed as there weren’t any fossils to be found and there were only a few petrified stumps scattered across a one-mile trail. Later I discovered that most of petrified wood were taken from the area back in late 19 century when they were first discovered. People carted them off by wagons. What a tragedy.
Instead, if you want to see petrified wood (see right), go to Petrified Forest NP in Arizona. We were there a few years back and it was a wonderful place to visit with many different types of petrified wood and lots of hiking trails through many different and beautiful landscapes (see above left). Please don’t collect them though.
And if you want to look for fossils, then you can go to Craigleith State Park, Ontario, Canada. We had never heard of Craigleith until we were at Markham visiting our friends, Harry and Jennifer and their family. They told us that they camped at Craigleith many times and had a lot of fun looking for fossils on the beach there. After the experience with Florissant Fossil Beds, we didn’t have any high hope but went there nevertheless as it was on the way to Bruce Peninsula.
Craigleith State Park is on the south end of Georgian Bay, a part of Lake Huron. We arrived there on a Thursday afternoon and were lucky to get a campsite. Evidently, it was a popular spot to camp and soon we knew why. The rocky shoreline was beautiful and the water was warm.
Instead of sand, it has a flat rock beach comprised of shale plates that contain invertebrate fossils around 450 million years old. Shale is a sedimentary rock comprised mostly of mud and clay. We strolled along this rock beach teemed with shale fragments, thus many opportunites for great discoveries. We, with our adventurous spirits, took to this task as if we were pioneers out for a fossils hunt for the 1st time carefully combed the beach looking for fossils and shouted with excitement when we discovered them. It was a wonderful time, especially for Kadia as water and rocks were two of her favorite things just like most kids. Soon it was getting late so we sat and watched a spectacular sunset, a favorite hobby of ours when we are on a trip.