Some 50 million years ago, during the Eocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era,
©National Park Service
More than 80 fossils are displayed at the Fossil Butte National Monument visitor
center including a 13-foot-crocodile.
Eventually the lake dried up, leaving behind a flat-topped remnant of rock that stands where the center of the lake once was. Embedded in the butte are the fossils of more than 20 kinds of fish, 100 varieties of insects, and an unknown number of plants. These fossils are among the most perfectly preserved remains of ancient plant and animal life animal life in the world. Not just the skeletons of fish are visible, but their teeth, delicate scales, and skin as well. Among the fossils preserved here are the fragile bones of a bat, the oldest ever found in
A sudden change in temperature or an invasion of blue-green algae may have contributed to these die-offs. A large "mass mortality" slab is on display at the visitor center, along with many other fossils. Several short hiking trails with exhibits allow visitors to see the fossils in their natural condition and learn about some of the history of fossil-collecting in the area. The Fossil Lake Trail winds through the aspen groves and high desert landscape that surround the butte.
Address: 9 miles west of Kemmerer on U.S. Hwy 30,
Hours of Operation: Monument grounds are open sunrise to sunset.
Visitor center hours are:
- Daily (summer)
- Daily (rest of the year)
Learn about these other national monuments:
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's national monuments. America
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Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Wyoming State as well as other recreational activities. Wyoming
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the