The expression, you can't judge a book by its cover certainly applies to Fossil Butte. When looking at the landscape, you see a flat-topped scrub-covered butte. In reality, it's a long gone lake and in the layers of sediment, like pages in a book, are thousands of fossils.
The visitor center is really well done. There is a time line etched into the railing leading to the door that marks the appearance of various plants and animals on earth and at Fossil Butte. It is a long walk before humans appear. The visitor center offers a couple of videos. One on the research the scientists do in the lab and in the quarry located in the monument and another on how they quarry the fossils. Replicas of incredible fossil finds are on display in the visitor center.
The ranger suggested we hike the trail that leads to the quarry area and than branch to the left and follow game trails to the top of the butte. The trail to the top is a fairly steep climb but once there, it's a level walk to the far side of the butte where we saw a herd of pronghorn. The view from the top is spectacular. Working our way back down the butte we accessed the Chicken Creek trail. This trail is wooded and quite different from the first part of the hike. We finished our visit on the scenic drive. The quarry is closed when the scientists are not there. It would have been a real bonus if the quarry was active.
We spent half a day here and if the quarry had been open, we would have stayed longer. We highly recommend visiting Fossil Butte.
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