Friday, April 15, 2011

Petrified Forest

What a glorious day!  We drove from our campground in Holbrook to the southern entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park (1) to the Painted Desert Visitor Center (2).
We  finished up the day back at Holbrook seeing Jim Gray's Petrified Wood shop and  the Wig Wam Motel on Historic US Route 66.   It was quite a day.  I took lots of pictures...

In fact I took so many pictures, I am going to split up the trip into two posts:  this one and the next one on the Painted Desert and what we saw in Holbrook.

At the southern entrance park to the Petrified Forest National Park, we presented out Annual Pass.  We  bought in February at the Big Bend National Park for $80 and calculate we have used it for $50 in entrance fees so far.  It won't be too much longer before it will have paid for itself.

At the entrance, the park ranger made it clear that the Petrified Forest is a protected landmark and they are serious about trying to preserve the lands.  Shockingly~ almost a ton of petrified rock is removed every month by visitors!  Therefore, minimum fines of $325 are in place for collecting petrified wood, rocks fossils, plants or animals.

Something like only 10% of the petrified forest land are is protected by the National Park/National Wildnerness Area and there are commercial companies that are authorized to collect and sell petrified rocks.  So there are legitimate ways to get keep sakes.

We started out at the Rainbow Forest Museum.  We always like to get an overview of the park area and we sat in for the 20 minute movie.  Along time ago this area was underwater.  Large trees and forest were caught up in the flooding.

Then a huge land shift covered up the area and all the sediment and minerals somehow found their way into the trees and the silica-mixed ground water somehow replaced the wood makeup with silica deposits.  Eventually it crystalized into quartz and the logs were preserved as petrified wood.
Inside the Rainbow Museum is a display that shows every state in the Union having petrified wood.  It is just not as plentiful and majestic as the collection here in the Petrified Forest.  I did not know that.

Adjacent to the museum is an easy paved Giant Logs trail.  We walked through that area which only took about 30 minutes.  On the trail is the park's largest log, known as 'Old Faithful'.
Next we took another hike along the Long Logs and the Agate House trails.
These two trails are next to each other and shows the parks largest concentration of petrified wood.
The Agate House trail is along a building of petrified wood that is speculated to be something like what some peoples may have lived in a long long time ago.  It was reconstructed to its present state by Civilian Conservation Corps personnel back in the 1930's.
From the Agate House, we continued on the trail through open fields of petrified logs and near sandstone and an area of badlands.  It was a very interest hike through different kinds of scenery.

From there we went to the Blue Mesa which is an overlook of some astounding vistas.  We had a picnic lunch while we tried to take in all the beauty.
I don't have enough words in my vocabulary to describe all this.  The pictures seem to be one enormously beautiful view after another after another after another that all run together...  I took 249 pictures during the day and every one was a sample of unique beauty.
It got to be a little windy and at some of the overlooks, we just stopped and took some pictures rather than taking a hike on the trail.

A stop along the way was 'Newspaper Rock'.  There you can use the telescopes to view petroglyphs.
A short distance away a small community of ruins called Puerco Pueblo shows some more petroglyphs and remains of where ancients lived.  The short paved trail through the area makes it accessible and an easy hike.

It was a perfect day and a lot of fun.  It was very interesting and definitely a unique and beautiful part of the world.  We couldn't take it all in really.  These pictures hardly do it justice.  I run out of descriptives and the amazing beauty all around us became one spectacular view after another.

In my next post, some views of the Painted Desert.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...


  1. An outstanding post today Randy! For me, it’s been nearly 30 years since I last visited the Petrified Forest. From your description(s), I think there must be more hiking and additional exhibits to view than there was in the past. Loved the header picture too!


  2. I think that sometimes you just take a photo in your brain..and relive it now and then...Your pictures were great!...It is so true that sometimes "ya just had to be there"...and how lucky you were!!!

  3. Great informative post, Randy. Terrific pictures too. My list of places we have to see is now getting longer and longer.

  4. Thanks for the tour ... this is one of the places we missed visiting; it's definitely on the list for the future.

  5. Thanks for the tour of the Petrified Forest, never having been there we will be adding it to our bucket list.

  6. On my quick buzz thru there last summer, I really did not do the park justice. It was about 100* that day so it wasn't the best day to explore the desert! I really need to go back!

  7. What gorgeous scenery. Beautiful pictures. We can't wait to make our way out there some day soon. Really enjoyed this post and the one on the Painted Desert.

    Kevin and Ruth