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Driving north from Denver to Fort Collins, the road skirts the eastern edge of the Front Range of the Southern Rocky Mountains, primarily on lower Tertiary and then upper Cretaceous sedimentary formation of the Denver Basin. To the east lie the Great Plains. The basement rocks exposed in the Front Range are buried by up to 12,000 feet locally along the front. The ranges are comprised of Proterozoic crystalline rocks ranging in age from the 1800Ma Idaho Springs metasediments and metavolcanics, the 1700MaSilverplume granite and the 1400Ma Log Cabin and Sherman granites of the Sherman Batholith.

North from Fort Collins toward Laramie the route traverses hogbacks of uplifted Permian Pennsylvanian through lower Cretaceous sedimentary beds, locally traveling down the strike valleys. Road cuts provide excellent exposures of the Jurassic Morrison. Formation, and the Cretaceous Dakota and Ingleside Formations. Quarries developed in these formations produce sandstone for building materials and glass sand, limestone for agricultural and construction use and shales for cement manufacture. The oldest sedimentary rocks of the Permian-Pennsylvanian Fountain Formation unconformably overlie the paleo-erosion surface of the Proterozoic crystalline rocks. This route also follows the old Overland Trail stagecoach route.

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