s/y Nine of Cups
Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming
May 2012
Return to Home Page
More National Parks?

More American Odyssey trip?

Roadside Americana?

Birds of North America?

Wildflowers of North America?
Fossil Butte National Monument
was established in 1972 "to protect
and preserve a portion of the
Green River and Wasatch
formations which contain a unique
fossilized assemblage of organisms
that once lived in or around Fossil
Lake, an ancient lake of Eocene

The Monument's 8,198 acres is
located in southwest Wyoming near
the Utah border. As usual, we
began at the Visitor's Center for a
video orientation and a look at the
exhibits. There's not much to see at
the monument itself.
The fossils of Fossil Lake are remarkable not only for their abundance, but also for the broad spectrum of species found here...plants, insects, reptiles, birds,
mammals and over 20 kinds of fish...and their striking detail. Plant fossils adorned one exhibit wall; an intact, very large dragonfly; several fish fossils; a snake.
Three great lakes existed in the area of Wyoming, Utah and Colorado some 50 million years
ago. All are gone today, but they left behind a wealth of fossils in lake sediments that turned
into rocks made up of laminated limestone, mudstone and volcanic ash. The fossils are
among the world's most perfectly preserved remains of ancient plant and animal life.
Unfortunately, much of the fossil-rich land is outside the monument boundaries and several
shops along the road offered fossil-digging activities and fossils for sale.
Mule deer, not yet fossilized, wander the
monument lands.
A turtle fossil
We weren't sure what to expect here so we weren't really disappointed to find
there really wasn't much to see or do. Though we would agree that the
paleontological work here is probably significant, it was an uninspiring place to
Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, our next stop, was much more fun
and interesting. Want to visit this monument with us?