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Garden Park Fossil Area

Garden Park Fossil Area

Learn more about the Historic Quarries in Garden Park Fossil Area

The Garden Park Fossil Area is one of the most productive and historically important areas in the western United States for the understanding of Late Jurassic dinosaur faunas. The Garden Park area is one of the few places in the Western United States where dinosaur remains occur from bottom to top of the Morrison Formation. They have been collected from no fewer than 25 quarries in the Garden Park area, which is the “type locality” of many species of famous dinosaurs, including species of Allosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodocus, and Stegosaurus. Three almost complete skeletons of Stegosaurus stenops, Colorado’s State Fossil, have been found and collected from the area. The Morrison in Garden Park also has produced the first-known Jurassic mammal fossils from the Western United States and reptile, freshwater-pelecypod, freshwater-gastropod, and land-plant fossils.

The Garden Park Fossil Area is located on Federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and has special management as part of a larger Research Natural Area and Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Casual collecting of fossils is not permitted in the area, but collecting permits for scientific research projects are available. For more information contact the BLM office in Cañon City.

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Visit the Garden Park Fossil Area

Two roadside stops occur near two of the historic quarries in the area. From the south, the first is at the Cleveland Quarry (also known as the Delfs Quarry, named for Edwin Delfs, who excavated the quarry for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History between 1954 and 1957). This stop is 6.4 miles north of the intersection of U.S. 50 and Raynolds Avenue on the east (right) side of the road. It is a developed Bureau of Land Management rest stop with picnic tables, a restroom, and interpretive signs. The Cleveland Quarry was across Fourmile Creek near the valley bottom and produced one of the most complete known skeletons of the primitive long-necked sauropod, Haplocanthosaurus delftsi. The skeleton is the only mounted specimen of this genus and is on display in at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio.

The area around the Delfs Quarry rest stop has produced a number of other fossil finds, including a nest of eggs thought to be from the small dinosaur Othnielia. The eggs of this nest are now on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The second stop is that of the Marsh-Felch Quarry (Fig. 1), located only 0.2 mile north of the Cleveland Quarry stop. The pull off for this stop is on the west (left) side of the road next to a monument showing some of the dinosaurs of the Garden Park area (and some that haven’t been found in the area, including Tyrannosaurus rex, a Late Cretaceous dinosaur). A 0.25-mile long hiking trail (one way) leads from the north side of this monument to an overlook of the Marsh-Felch Quarry. The trail is an easy walk (but is wheelchair accessible for only a short distance), and it includes several interpretive signs along the route and at the overlook. The Marsh-Felch Quarry is the type locality for a number of dinosaur species, including Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Diplodocus, Haplocanthosaurus, Labrosaurus, Morosaurus, and Stegosaurus. The bones of 65 dinosaur individuals were found in this quarry. 

Figure 1—Historic photograph of Marsh-Felch Quarry, looking northwest from overlook, taken in summer of ca.1888.

In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of The Antiquities Act, the BLM paired with the Garden Park Paleontologic Society to develop a website that features an interactive map of the Marsh [Felch] Dinosaur Quarry. Through a series of letters written to Othneil C. Marsh, the website describes the life and findings of Marshall P. Felch over the several years that he spent working in the Marsh [Felch] Quarry.

Learn more about the Historic Quarries in Garden Park