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Geology of the Colorado Front Range and Mineral Belt

Geology of the Colorado Front Range and Mineral Belt


GSM Field Trip   Summer 2010


 This trip will examine the structural geology, stratigraphy, dinosaur paleontology, geomorphology, and the mineral resources and mining history of the Colorado Front Range and the Colorado Mineral Belt. It will attempt to use local guides and geology related attractions to assist in the interpretation of the geology as much as possible.

 Daily field excursions will be made from two base camps. Sunday through Wednesday will be in the west Denver/Golden/Morrison area. Thursday and Friday will be in the Colorado Springs area. Both areas have numerous hotels and campgrounds. A group campsite in each location can be arranged if there is sufficient interest in camping.

 Morning sessions will begin at 9 am. Lunch will be approximately from 12 noon until 1 pm. Afternoon sessions will run from about 1 pm until 5pm (when there is no evening session) or 4 pm (when there is an evening hike). Evening hikes will be from about 6:30 until 8:30 pm.

 Participants will be responsible for their own transportation, lodging, and meals.

 There will be a trip fee of $10 per person per day. This will cover the costs of honorariums to local guides, museum and mine admissions, and handout duplication. Participants do not have to participate every day.

 The hikes are optional. Distances and vertical climb are indicated for each. The field guide for the hikes is “Trailwalker’s Guide to the Dinosaur Ridge, Red Rocks, and Green Mountain Area”. It can be purchased at the Dinosaur Ridge bookstore (our meeting point for the first hike) or through the Colorado Geological Survey (link is below).

 There will be an organizational meeting and geology background lecture about 2 weeks before the trip. Time and location will be announced soon.

 If you might be interested in this trip please send a note to the email address below or contact Randy Strobel at 651-731-0458. Include names, phone number, and email address. You will not be asked to commit to attending until a couple of weeks prior to the trip.


 Revised Tentative Schedule

 This schedule is still somewhat tentative, however the final schedule will not differ much, if at all.

Sunday June 13




·      (Optional) Hikes 4: Dinosaur Ridge to Red Rocks Park. 2 miles, 200 feet climbing. Randy Strobel.




·      Red rocks Ampitheater: Tour ampitheater and museum. Observe disconformity of Fountain formation with Precambrian rocks. Randy Strobel (GSM member).


·      I-70 roadcut: Stratigraphy of the Dakota Hogback. Make labeled rock boxes. Measure and draw stratigraphic section. Measure strike and dip of rocks. Randy Strobel.

Monday June 14




·      Dinosaur Ridge: Visit museum. Tour of Ridge. Erin Fair (local paleotologist).


·      Triceratops Hill. Erin Fair.




·      Morrison Museum of Natural History. Guided tour.




·      Hike 1: Green Mountain, SE. 2.5 miles. 500 feet climbing. Randy Strobel.

Tuesday June 15




·      Drive to Idaho Springs (about 30 minutes from Golden).


·      Tour of Argo Gold Mine or Phoenix Gold Mine (your choice, commercial tours)




·      Mount Evans. Drive to top of mountain (14,130 ft.). Short hike to summit. Stop at Summit Lake on way down. Short hike to Chicago Creek overlook. Hike Bristlecone pine trail (about 2 miles downhill). Visit museum. Ranger lead talks and/or hikes will likely be arranged once the seasonal park employees are back to work.            

Wednesday June 16




·      Morning Colorado School of Mines Museum.


·      Tour of National Earthquake Information Center




·      Hike 2: Green Mountain, NW side. 3.5 miles. 650 feet. Randy Strobel. Coors brewery tour might be an alternative for those not hiking.




·      Hike 5: Matthew-Winters Park. 2 miles. 700 feet. Randy Strobel.


·      Drive to Colorado Springs area (about 2 hours from Golden).              



Thursday June 17




·      Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (no collecting). Steve Veatch (local geologist).




·      Florissant Fossil Quarry (collecting allowed). Steve Veatch.

Friday June 18


            All Day


·      Cripple Creek Mining District tour. Steve Veatch.


·      (Optional) Garden of the Gods evening hike. Steve Veatch.



End of the formal field trip. An informal extension of trip is possible for Leadville area and sites on the way home including the Nebraska Sand Hills. Leadville was removed from the formal trip due to the difficulty in arranging for local geologists to assist in the field.

The following is a list of links to most of the sites that will be visited on the trip.  It also includes some possible extensions after the end of the trip.,_Colorado,_Colorado

The following books are recommended. Most can be obtained at the Dinosaur Ridge bookstore. All can be ordered from this link:

Guides Specific to this trip


  • Trail Walker's Guide to the Dinosaur Ridge, Red Rocks and Green Mountain Area (essential if you are planning on doing the hikes)
  • A Field guide to Dinosaur Ridge
  • A Guide to Triceratops Trail at Parfet Prehistoric Preserve
  • Fossil Footprints of the Dinosaur Ridge and Fossil Trace Areas

General Colorado Geology


  • Messages in Stone
  • Roadside Geology of Colorado
  • Tourist Guide to Colorado Geology
  • Colorado’s Dinosaurs

End:  Geology of the Colorado Front Range and Mineral Belt