We woke up Saturday morning to another beautiful morning on the mountain. We got dressed and headed out to Florissant Fossil Beds National Park. I had no idea what to expect. I pictured a rock pit where they had dug out little fossils of fish and shells and leaves - I pictured it as kinda of barren and boring, but it was anything but. It has lush forests full of Apsens and Ponderosa Pine trees.
There were meadows full of wild flowers. There was a visitors center showcasing all the really interesting types of fossils that have been excavated and there were petrified tree stumps from Redwood trees - amazing!
We did some hiking around on our own and took a ranger-guided wild-flower tour from which we all learned so much! I'll never forget it! She even showed up where a bear had scratched up one of the Aspen trees! Wowsers! There had been several deer and mountain lion sightings in the park recently... After the wild-flower tour we did some more hiking on our own and found these great big boulders and a little creek to play on for a while. The kids loved climbing around on the boulders!
Chloe and Spencer got to do the Junior Ranger program. They got little activity books and each had to complete so many activities for their ages. Once they completed their activities, they turned them into the ranger and had to recite a pledge. They each received a junior ranger badge and certificate. Very cool!
Upon leaving the Florissant National Park, we ate lunch, waited out another thunderstorm and then headed back out for some more hiking. This time we went to The Crags, which is said to have an amazing view once you reach the top. We enjoyed getting to see a stream as we hiked this time and some beautiful views on our way up. The further we got down the trail, the more thunder we'd hear and when we got to where we were about 45 minutes away from the top, it started to downpour. We broke out the ponchos and headed back down - too much lightning to really think it was a good idea to keep climbing up higher toward it! While we were soaked and cold (could see our breath!) and a little disappointed, we still were able to laugh and have fun on the way down - definitely something we'll always remember!
After hiking back down to the car, watching some deer for a while, stopping for gas - it was dark when we got back to the cabin, ending that day's entertainment!
Sunday morning - our last morning on the mountain was bittersweet. We were excited for our day's plans, for heading back to home and our own beds, but loved our long weekend and didn't really want it to end either. We packed the car back up and started down the road to Colorado Springs.
Our plan was to spend the day hiking around Garden of the Gods and I'm so glad we allowed most of a day to do this - this was one of our ultimate favorite spots of our trips. Not only was it amazingly breath-taking, but the kids had so much climbing and playing on the rocks. (And so did we!) We hiked for hours, enjoyed lunch at the Trading Post and didn't leave until we were absolutely exhausted from it! Some of my favorite pics from the trip were taken here (and there are a ton - but I HAD to share and I couldn't choose just a few!)
The kids have No Fear! and had to be on top of as many of the rock formations as they could. Yikes!
It was about 3:00 when we finally headed toward home and that was a loooooong drive home! It hadn't taken us long to forget about the horrid heat and humidity we'd left behind and it took no time at all for us to remember it either! We stopped for a bite to eat in Hays at about 9:45pm and when we rolled down the windows to eat at Sonic it felt like a furnace!!!
We finally got home about 1 in the morning and fell into bed, dead asleep. I had the best time on our short, but fun vacation. I have incredible memories and know the kids do, too!