NPS Photo by Sheena Grabski
At 8,400 feet, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument falls into the Montane life zone. The zone is dominated by ponderosa pine trees with some stands of spruce, fir, and aspen. In addition, there are some riparian habitats and mountain meadows. This provides for a wide range of wildlife from eagles to Tiger salamanders and from mountain lions to beetles. The most visible animals for park visitors are birds such as the Chickadee and Stellar's Jay and also smaller mammals such as Richardson's ground squirrels, Abert's squirrels. and rabbits. Larger mammals such as mountain lions, bobcat, wapiti or elk, and bear are seen on occassion.
Even if you do not see any animals on your hike, there are other clues that can tell you what kind of wildlife is nearby. Signs of animal activity can be scat, burrow openings, tracks, eaten pine cones, or other evidence. Tracks are a useful aid confirming the presence of a particular species and they can tell you a lot about what the animal was doing in the area.
Did You Know?
Fossil remains of a brontothere, a rhinoceros-like creature, have been found in the Florissant fossil beds. Brontotheres were enormous, with some standing over eight feet tall.