Earlier this month, then Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved the expansion of the Garden Park Fossil Area National Natural Landmark on BLM land near Cañon City. CNHP provided the National Park Service with the evaluation of this site for the expansion. Read the BLM press release here.
The Garden Park Fossil Area is located in Fremont County, Colorado, along the Fourmile Creek drainage approximately 8 miles north of Cañon City. The site was originally designated in 1973 in recognition of the historical and paleontological significance of the Jurassic age dinosaur discoveries excavated from outcrops of the Morrison Formation in the area. The original designation included the Colorado Historical Society monument located on the roadside below the Marsh Quarry, but did not cover the important fossil quarries.
Quarries in the Garden Park area played an important role in the “Bone Wars” of the early period of American paleontology, and activities at this site were responsible for generating wide-spread interest in dinosaurs beginning in the late 1870s. Important discoveries include the three most complete Stegosaurus skeletons ever found, as well as the first known remains of dinosaurs like Camarasaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Diplodocus. In addition to dinosaurs, Garden Park has also produced fossils of Late Jurassic mammals, trees, and turtles, among other things, and finds include 23 type specimens.
The site also supports populations of three of Colorado’s rare plants: Eriogonum brandegeei (Brandegee’s buckwheat) Mentzelia chrysantha (golden blazing star), and Asclepias uncialis (dwarf milkweed).