Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
Elevation: 4507 - 4605 feet
Cellphone: 1-5 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs
Time: 3 hrs. 30 mins.
Facilities: Vault toilet
Trailhead: Fruita Paleo Area
Attractions: Dinosaur and geological facts.
View FPA in a larger map
The Fruita Paleo Area is a fairly new development located between the Devils Canyon and Pollock Bench areas of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area just south of Fruita, Colorado. If you look at the Google Map you might notice that the trailhead wasn't there when the satellite photos were taken. The trail is billed as a half mile interpretive hike but somehow I made it come out to a little over a mile on our outing.
The Fruita Paleontological Area is known for its rare Late Jurassic crocodiles, mammals, fish, frogs,
lizards and other beasts from the Morrison Formation. Besides the smallest dinosaur fossil to be discovered anywhere in the world, the Fruitdens, the much larger Stegosaurus and Ceratosaurus have also been found here. It is my understanding that no other site in the world has produced the number and variety of Jurassic fossils as the FPA.
The sandy trail is an easy enough hike. There were noticeable tracks in the dirt from a baby stroller but I don't think most toddlers would have too much trouble walking it. I counted over 20 informational kiosks at the various stations along the way. Each kiosk gave information about the geology, previous finds and the dinosaurs that once inhabited the area.
The picture above contains a fossil fragment of a vertebrae. It is almost impossible to distinguish without studying the pictures on the kiosk that accompanies the site. This is the only exhibit of a fossil that I noticed.
The picture above is the hollow cast left from a bone that has long ago disappeared.
The Fruita Paleo Area is a good short hike close to town where you can enrich you knowledge while enjoying a little exercise. The development at the site seems to have been completed in recent years so I am hoping that more fossils or replicas can be added. The lack of fossil exhibits compared to the large number of fossils that have been found at the site can only be compared to visiting one of the pilfered tombs of Egypt. Perhaps the Antiquities Act could be modified to require that something be left behind or replaced with something else so that it might at least provide a good representation of its previous treasure.
If you would like to see the Fruita Paleo Area for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.