"LOGS OF STONE" Top 5 Page for this destination Petrified Forest National Park by mtncorg

Once upon a time, a forest of pine grew high up in the headwaters of a mountain stream. Some cataclysmic event knocked them down and many washed down swollen streams onto a large floodplain where they were covered quickly by mud, silt and volcanic ash. Lack of oxygen, due to rapid burial, shut down the decay process. Silica from groundwater eventually seeped into the wood and over eons, crystallized into quartz, thus petrifying the logs. This occured 225 million years ago. In the intervening period, the land sank, flooded with freshwater and then rose high above the sea level, stresses which broke the petrified logs and continues to break them today. Other fossils remain buried in a layer that is in some spots up to 300 feet deep.

As with many areas in this region, evidence of human habitation exists - up to 2000 years ago until about 1400 - in the form of ruins, pictographs, rubble.

To protect the fossilized deposits, the Federal Government, as early as 1906, established a National Monument here. Teh Painted Desert to the north was added in 1932 and the Monument becam a Park in 1962. This is a car park for the most part. A 27 mile drive goes past many exhibits and turn-outs. WE drove through the Park from north to south and this is how the tips are arranged. There are no campgrounds in the Park, only wilderness camping for which you need a backcountry permit from a ranger station. There are motels in nearby towns and at the Painted Desert Inn - built originally in the 1920's, rebuilt in the 1930's and restored in the 1990's - there is both gas and food.

It goes without saying, pieces of petrified wood are not there for the taking. Rangers warn you not to take any, but recent studies show that 20% of pre-placed pieces disappeared within a short time. That is erosion on an exponential curve! If you have to have a piece, there are several commercial concessions just outside the park.

The map shows that the Park is pretty much devoted to the Park road with little backcountry beyond.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Geology and history come together
  • Cons:Desolate and pretty much a drive-through park only
  • In a nutshell:Worth the Detour but Leave the Logs Lie!!
  • Intro Updated Nov 30, 2003
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Reviews (8)

Comments (11)

  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo
    Aug 5, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Thanks for your tips. I was especially interested in your comment that this is mainly a drive through park. We travel with a 5th wheel, now that we no longer back pack, but still enjoy finding campsites such as state and national parks, where just sitting outside the camper enjoying birds, etc. with a good book in our hand can be relaxing between short up to 4 mile hikes, exploring the parks. I have found nothing in the area that matches up with our tastes in campgrounds, and it sounds like there is not much in the way of hiking trails in the area. I can see that my original idea of a week, is way too long.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jun 30, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    Wonderful depiction of the park and its sites-I am to be here In September and looking for what to see/do

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Apr 26, 2009 at 9:00 AM

    We were just here last week at petrified forest. Interesting place, indeed! Norman :)

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Oct 3, 2008 at 11:19 AM

    We loved exploring the ancient Indian ruins in Arizona--I see you include some here! I would love to return to see more of this beautiful state.....soon!

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Sep 18, 2006 at 12:54 AM

    Mmm, loved the Blue Mesa shot. (I've been walking with another VTer - Braidwood pages)

  • Jenniflower's Profile Photo
    Nov 26, 2005 at 4:01 AM

    Absolutely amazing - highly impressive. Would love to visit sometime :) Jen

  • DPando's Profile Photo
    Nov 26, 2005 at 3:40 AM

    wow!! stunning!!! impressive such a trip!!

  • catalysta's Profile Photo
    Dec 16, 2004 at 2:32 PM

    So did ya like my expert technical anthropological interpretation of the 'glyphs, hmmmm?

  • goingsolo's Profile Photo
    Jul 22, 2004 at 10:15 AM

    I'm following in your footsteps with my journey through the National Parks. This one's on my list for next year. :)

  • herzog63's Profile Photo
    Dec 19, 2003 at 11:14 AM

    Interesting page! I spent a few hours here back in the day!! haha We parked in front of the gate at 2 am and it was open when we woke up.....I thought it was a beautiful area!


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