Douglas PassMaterial: Fossils
Vehicle:Passenger Car Friendly
GPS Coordinates: 39° 38.176’N , 108° 45.739’W
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The Douglas Pass Fossil sight is part of the 48 million year old Green River Formation and has been known for producing some magnificent specimens. Although the area sits right around 9000 feet at the top of the mountain it was once the bottom of an ancient lake. The majority of the fossils you will find at this site are leafs and small insects. There are leaf fossils being found regularly that measure over four inches. There has been plenty of insect type fossils found as well. Being an ancient lake who knows what you could find.To access the site you need to travel west out of Grand Junction for about 15miles until you reach Loma. At this point you will turn right or north onto Hwy 139 (Also known as 13 Road). Once on Highway 139 continue to travel for another 47.5 miles or so until you reach the summit of Douglas Pass. At this point you will see a Department of Transportation shed and some equipment on your right along with a dirt road that climbs even farther up the side of the mountain. The road to this point is paved and suitable to any vehicle.At the summit of Douglas Pass you need to turn right and begin your ascent to the site. This portion of the road is very steep and has a few switchbacks. I personally would not recommend anything bigger than a large van from this point on. Continue travelling for about 4.5 miles until you come to a reddish colored gate. Depending on the day the gate could be open or closed. There are signs indicating that there is no trespassing and that beyond the gate in government property. The road eventually ends up at a large FAA radar dome. Please stay away from the dome, the government does not like you near it. There are a couple side roads that branch off but as long as you stay on the main road that is graded and well graveled you will be fine.Once you reach the gate there are a few places you can pull off the side of the road and park. Begin your search by looking up the road and to your left you will see the road cut and lots of places where people have been digging. Start by looking in the piles of shale along the road and you will see tons of fossils that people have discarded or overlooked, that will give you an idea of what to look for.Once you know what you’re looking for you can begin splitting the shale. Using a hammer and wide chisel you can pry up layers of the shell and whack it on the side and they will normally split in half. If you’re lucky you will be rewarded with some awesome fossils inside. Splitting the shale can be a lot of work but you can be rewarded with some fantastic specimens. If you’re not real picky you can find enough discarded pieces along the base of the little hill to brag about. Be sure to bring gloves and eye protection along with some sturdy shoes, the rocks and the hillside can be pretty rough. The temperatures are mild at that altitude but still be sure to bring plenty of water.Be sure to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with pictures of any cool finds. Have fun and Rock On!