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Get to Know: Mueller State Park and Florissant Fossil Beds

Prehistoric-Fish-FossilOne of the best parts about living in Colorado is exploring this beautiful state. For a lesser-known park and monument visit not too far (a couple hours) from Metro Denver, treat yourself and your family to a unique day or weekend trip to Mueller State Park and a short drive from there to also explore the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

The Park is a 5,121-acre spectacular mountain getaway open year-round and only a short drive west of Colorado Springs on Highway 67 South near the town of Divide. Whether summer or winter, there are many kinds of outdoor activities to enjoy including camping, horseback riding, bird watching, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, snow sledding, and more. Nineteen of the scenic well-kept trails that cover 50 miles are designated for mountain biking, and there are a total of 14 miles of hiking trails.

Another beautiful sight is the park’s wealth of aspen trees with every season being a delight for photographers and sightseers who visit the park and appreciate its rare beauty. Abundant wildlife extends to the 800-acre Dome Rock State Wildlife Area next door with black bears, deer, elk, coyotes and hawks.

The Florissant Fossil Beds contain some of the world’s largest petrified redwood tree stumps that you can see on a one-mile self-guided tour on the Petrified Forest Loop. There is a state-of-the-art museum with detailed fossils of insects in leaves and hands-on exhibits in an active science program.

In the Visitor Center you can receive information, see an interesting 14-minute “Shadows of the Past” orientation film, and learn about the area in a Ranger Talk in the amphitheater or in a guided tour. Visit the grounds of the Hornbek Homestead and take part in a ranger program if you are there between May 30 and Labor Day. Enjoy nature in this area with views of Pikes Peak and the large amount of wildlife.