Geology
Rocks and minerals can be found in your own backyard. Explore the world around you and learn about the history of the formation of the Earth by studying geology. We've gathered resources to make it fun and interesting.
Things to See & Do in Colorado
Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument protects a large deposit of fossil dinosaur bones--remains of the so-called "terrible lizards" that lived millions of years ago. The dinosaurs weren't really lizards, and most of them weren't even terrible. But some of the first dinosaur fossils ever found were huge bones and teeth, very lizard-like except for their size, and so the idea of monstrous lizards was born. Today, many ideas about dinosaurs are changing, and the fossils at Dinosaur National Monument continue to help us learn more about these fascinating animals. There is also more to Dinosaur National Monument than dinosaurs. The 210,000 acres within the park will grab your attention with its beauty, rugged wildness, solitude, and silence.
Curecanti National Recreation Area
Three reservoirs, named for corresponding dams on the Gunnison River, form the heart of Curecanti National Recreation Area. Panoramic mesas, fjord-like reservoirs, and deep, steep and narrow canyons abound. Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado's largest body of water, and is the largest Kokanee Salmon fishery in the United States. Morrow Point Reservoir is the beginning of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and below, Crystal Reservoir is the site of the Gunnison Diversion Tunnel, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Recently discovered dinosaur fossils, a 5,000 acre archeological district, a narrow gauge train, and traces of 6000 year old dwellings further enhance the offerings of Curecanti.
Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum
Visit on your own or schedule a tour to learn about Colorado geology. Tours go outdoors to look at local geology, then indoors to learn about rocks, minerals, and fossils. Tours must be scheduled in advance. Located in Golden. Admission is free.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park includes elevations ranging from 8,000 feet in the wet, grassy valleys to 14,259 feet at the weather-ravaged top of Long's Peak. Wildlife include elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and scores of smaller animals. With 359 miles of trail, there are endless opportunities to hikers, backpackers and horseback riders. There are sixty peaks rising above 12,000 feet challenge intrepid hikers and climbers. Trail Ridge Road is the highest, continuous, paved road in the United States, topping out at 12,183 feet. RMNP is located between Estes Park and Grand Lake.
Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. Sheer-walled canyons, towering monoliths, colorful formations, desert bighorn sheep, soaring eagles, and a spectacular road reflect the environment and history of the plateau-and-canyon country. Historic Rim Rock Drive offers 23 miles of breathtaking panoramic views and numerous overlooks. Trails lead across mesa tops and to spectacular overlooks or into backcountry canyons. Picnicking and camping are available. At an average elevation of 6,000 feet at the rim, the climate is relatively mild but can change rapidly to snow or summer storms. Around 275,000 people per year visit Colorado National Monument to enjoy these and other opportunities. The monument encompasses some 20,500 acres, and much of which has been recommended to Congress for designation as wilderness.
Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center
Explore Colorado Springs' paradise in one magical stop. Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark. Imagine dramatic views, 300' towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies. This world-class Visitor & Nature Center and museum is the most visited attraction in the region with all new interactive exhibits. Learn how the amazing red rocks got there with the NEW Geo-Trekker movie experience, shown every 20 minutes. Delight in one of Colorado's most photographed views while eating in our glass-enclosed café or from our terrace overlooking Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. Admission into the Park and Visitor Center is free.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain region’s leading resource for informal science education. A variety of exhibitions, programs, and activities help Museum visitors experience the natural wonders of Colorado, Earth, and the universe. Includes an IMAX theater and a planetarium.
Roxborough State Park
More than a million Denver-area residents have one of nature’s jewels in their backyard: Roxborough State Park, a short drive southwest of Denver. Ro​xborough​ is a Colorado Natural Area and a National Natural Landmark for good reason. The park, with close to 4000-acres, is filled with dramatic red-rock formations, distinct plant communities, and a host of wildlife ranging from black bears to mule deer. Visitors can take in all of Roxborough’s geological wonders via a series of trails ​for every level of hiker. The Fountain Valley Overlook is only 100 yards from the Visitor Center and provides spectacular views of several beautiful rock formations, including the Fountain Formation, Lyons Formation, and the Dakota Hogback. Many visitors tote their cameras to capture one of the many beautiful views or animal sightings such as red fox from one of the park’s overlooks.​
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison's unique and spectacular landscape was formed slowly by the action of water and rock scouring down through hard Proterozoic crystalline rock. No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Canyon is located near Montrose.
Great Sand Dunes
Nestled in southern Colorado, North America's tallest dunes rise over 750 feet high against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The wind-shaped dunes glow beneath the rugged backdrop of the mountains. This geologic wonderland, containing 30 square miles of dunes, became a national monument in 1932. With the passage of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act of 2000, resources now also include alpine lakes and tundra, six peaks over 13,000' in elevation, ancient spruce and pine forests, large stands of aspen and cottonwood, grasslands, and wetlands--all habitat for diverse wildlife and plant species.
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is dedicated to engaging and inspiring their audiences to explore the legacies of the peoples and environments of the Cache La Poudre Rivery Valley. The Main Gallery highlights the early history of Fort Collins from paleolithic Indians that lived 10,800 years ago, to the fort era, and the agricultural boom of the sugar beet industry. Also features special exhibits including a ferret cam, music and sound lab, and tot spot.
California National Historic Trail
The California Trail carried over 250,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840's and 1850's, the greatest mass migration in American history. Today, more than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped lands between Casper Wyoming and the West Coast, reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers. More than 240 historic sites along the trail will eventually be available for public use and interpretation. The trail passes through the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and California.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
A beautiful mountain valley just west of Pikes Peak holds spectacular remnants of the earth's prehistoric life. Huge petrified redwoods and incredibly detailed fossils of ancient insects and plants reveal a very different Colorado of long ago. Almost 35 million years ago, enormous volcanic eruptions buried the then-lush valley and petrified the redwood trees that grew there. A lake formed in the valley and the fine-grained sediments at its bottom became the final resting-place for thousands of insects and plants. These sediments compacted into layers of shale and preserved the delicate details of these organisms as fossils. The Florissant Fossil Beds are world-renowned, and in 1969 were set aside as a part of our National Park System.
University of Denver Museum of Anthropology
Explore the DU Museum of Anthropology, located on the campus of the University of Denver. The Museum houses 165,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects and site collections and records from over 1,800 Colorado archaeological sites and from hundreds of other sites in twelve western states.
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Featured Resources

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