The Lake Champlain Islands are home to the Chazy Fossil Reef, one of the most historic places to see in Vermont. The geological wonder has two wonderful viewing sites located in the town of Isle La Motte. This 1,567 acre reef is the oldest reef in the world, as it’s home to 480 million year old fossils! A variety of species are on display with common ones being early snails, squids, and sea sponges. Thanks to the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, the reef is a designated National Natural Landmark and a part of the 85-acre Goodsell Ridge Fossil Preserve as well as the Fisk Quarry Reserve, which really speaks to the town’s commitment to preservation.
The Goodsell Ridge Fossil Preserve welcomes locals and tourists to go on a self-guided tour through history on a 4,600ft trail. Along the way are informational panels to help the travel through time. Additional enjoyment is provided during the months of May through October as a museum and visitor center open up. These activities are found in a restored Vermont dairy barn and are staffed by volunteers. This summer season also brings the opportunity to schedule a group tour. Kids who go to school in Grand Isle County will most likely experience one of these adventures of a group tour on a field trip.
The Fisk Quarry Preserve is only two miles south of the Goodsell Preserve and is also always open to the public. It too offers a self-guided tour on a shorter trail. Along with the quarry providing a fun and educational time for everyone, it’s also still used for geological research. The limestone that the quarry is made up of was used to build quite significant buildings across the country, including our very own Statehouse. Luckily, the Isle La Motte Preservation and the Preservation Trust of Vermont preserved the quarry before any more historical rock could be taken.
The Chazy Reef is a perfect place to relax, learn, and get out in Grand Isle County’s incredible scenery!
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