Fossil Butte National Monument consists of 8,198 acres in south-west Wyoming. The major feature is a flat hill made of sedimentary lake bottom deposits. These deposited layers contain fossils of fish, invertebrates, and insects from 48-53 million years ago.
Approximately 18,000 people visit the park each year, but on this warm early-winter day there were few other visitors and no one else on the hiking trails.
From the visitor center a paved road runs north towards the center of the property. Soon the pavement turns to gravel and the road zig-zags up a high wind-swept Wyoming ridge. On this ridgetop are old two-track ranch roads suitable for hiking. The Rubey Ridge Trail is one of these, and extends west along a high ridge top for two miles. This solitary walk offers views of the surrounding ridgelines and access to multiple vegetation communities.
Historic Quarry Trail
The interpretive signs along the Historic Quarry Trail tell the story of early fossil hunters, paleontologists, and tourists and their impact on the local history and economic development. The trail is a 2.5 mile loop with a steep spur trail up to the fossil quarry.
Along the trail is a ‘cabin’ (more like a wooden tent) that was a seasonal home to an early fossil collector / dealers.
Visible in the distance from the Historic Quarry Trail are some original buildings of the town of Fossil, Wyoming. Not a true ghost town, Fossil is still inhabited and there are modern structures including Ulrich’s Fossil Gallery.