Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument [nps.gov]Florissant, Colorado Over 35 million years ago near what's now Florissant, Colorado, there was a lush green valley full of insects, small mammals, birds, plants, and giant redwood trees. During the Eocene age enormous volcanic eruptions buried this valley trapping the plant and animal life in layers of sediment and pumice, and petrifying the redwoods. The area, which now holds a wealth of finely detailed remnants of this prehistoric life secured between layers of shale, was designated as a national monument in 1969. The scene below is an area where scientists and experts are allowed to excavate under very strict protocols. One of the many petrified redwood stumps in the area. The lay of the land at Florissant Fossil Bed National Monument. On privately owned land near the national monument there's a fossil quarry that for a fee is open to the public for exploration. My 13 year old grandson, Jackson, who’s been interested in paleontology-related subjects for many years, had great fun combing through the pieces of shale, searching for fossils. Jackson using a tool to pry apart piece of shale to see if there's a treasure inside. Searching….searching….searching… Jackson was successful in the hour we were there finding several fossils containing leaf fragments and this small insect which is relatively intact. Doesn't look too bad for a little critter that's tens of millions of years old!! In keeping with the “old” theme, here's an old picture of Jackson at age 4. His pre-school teacher asked the children to dress up for the graduation ceremony according to what they wanted to be when they grew up. Jackson chose….you guessed it….a paleontologist!