Directions: From Hwy 50 in Cañon City, go north on 15th Street, through town, and turn right on South Street, then a quick left on Red Canyon Road. Continue on Red Canyon Road until it becomes County Road 9. Follow CR 9 north to the Road-side exhibit for the fossil area. This is part of the Gold Belt Back Country Scenic Byway. There are 2 small pull-outs with marked interpretive signs.
The Garden Park Fossil Area is world famous for its monumental dinosaur fossil discoveries. The stegosaurus featured at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science was one of the areas most impressive finds. The site itself contains a small roadside exhibit and some nice picnic spots and access to Fourmile Creek however, there are no fossils on display here, just information about the finds and where they are currently displayed.
Across the road from the exhibit is a very faint trail, that quickly becomes more substantial. This trail will take you north parallel to the road and connect to the Marsh Quarry Trailhead. You can also park at the trailhead rather than the exhibit site but the hike connecting the two is short and scenic. Marsh Quarry explores one of the more prominent fossil areas. The short trail visits two overlooks both with educational information. The views from the Upper Overlook are worth the short hike.
If you want to continue exploring this area, the trail continues past the Upper Overlook and follows the dry creek bed. The trail gently gains elevation, passes a marshy meadow and climbs to a flat area with terrific views of the surrounding landscape. The trail then continues towards the butte in the distance, and might just lead to the summit. However, the flat grassy area makes for a good place to turnaround.
The Garden Park Fossil Area is worthwhile to visit as long as you're not expecting to see any actual fossils. It surely makes for a nice stop along the Gold Belt Backcountry Scenic Byway and explores the Fourmile Creek Valley, which is a stunning part of Colorado's Southern Front Range.
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Garden Park Fossil Area, BLM Public Lands
Date Hiked: May 25, 2019
Distance: 2.1 mi RT
Elevation Gain: 467 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 5,732 to 6,173 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 38º 31' 57" N; 105º 13' 08" W
Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management (BLM)