Garden Park Fossil Area is one of the most productive and historically important locations in the United States for the study of Late Jurassic dinosaurs. Fossil hunters and scientists from across the country have dug in Garden Park since 1877, when the nearby town of Cañon City, Colorado was still young. Important discoveries include the first complete skeleton of Allosaurus, the three most complete Stegosaurus skeletons ever found, as well as the first known remains of dinosaurs like Camarasaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Diplodocus.
In addition to dinosaurs, Garden Park has also produced fossils of Late Jurassic mammals, turtles and crocodiles, and a variety of Late Jurassic flora. Fossils from Garden Park are housed in museums as far as New York City and Washington, D.C., and excavations by institutions such as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science continue to this day. Since 1937, the area has been managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and was added to the National Natural Landmark (NNL) registry by the National Park Service (NPS) in 1972. More recently, the BLM, identified the site as a Research Natural Area in 1991, and in 1996 the site was upgraded to an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).
On this site you can learn about the beginnings of the Garden Park fossil excavations, during the period when dinosaurs were little known, and the feud between two of the most famous paleontologists- Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh - in American history was rapidly intensifying: hints of this rivalry played out in Garden Park. Although Cope and Marsh financed their individual quarries - Marsh-Felch Quarry and the Cope-Lucas Quarries - in Garden Park, Cañon City Pioneers excavated them.
The quarries in Cañon City played an important role in the "Great Dinosaur Rush" of the West and established dinosaurs in the public consciousness. The fossil discoveries in Garden Park affected the whole course of American paleontology and the fossils continue to yield significant scientific and educational information regarding the history of life on earth.