"Petrified Forest National Park" Top 5 Page for this destination Petrified Forest National Park by Basaic
Petrified Forest National Park Travel Guide: 119 reviews and 402 photos
The Petrified Forest National Park was established in 1906. The park has one of the world's largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood, the colorful painted desert, historic structures, archeological sites, and 225 million year old fossils. It is open from 7 AM to 7 PM during the summer and from 8 AM to 5 PM in the winter. The entrance fee is $10 per car. There are 28 miles worth of stops in the park. You can get a map of the park at the North or South entrances. I recommend entering from the North so you can stop at the Visitors' Center. There are gift shops at both the North and South entrances. You can easily spend 3 to 5 hours in the park if you stop at each place of interest depending on how long you stay at each.
The whole Painted Desert actually covers almost 95,000 acres from the Grand Canyon to the part you see in the Petrified Forest National Park. The area was formed by the Chinle Formation, a very soft layer of earth consisting mainly of mud, sandstone, and volcanic ash. The softness of the soil allows for fantastic erosion effects as well as colorful staining by mineralized water flows and mineral deposits over the eons. Various combinations of minerals and decayed plant and animal matter contribute to the various colors seen through the park. The park is continually changing as water and wind erode the area and shift the sediment causing lower layers of fossil and petrified wood to surface. A 10 mile paved road runs throughout the park providing quite a few pull off points with plaques explaining the geology and coloration within the park.
Petrified wood forms through the process of petrification. This process turns the wood into quartz crystal, which is very brittle and shatters. Even though petrified wood is fragile, it is also harder than steel. Petrified wood has beautiful color and detail. Sometimes the petrified wood retains enough of the original cellular structure of the wood to show the grain of the wood. The process of petrification starts with three raw ingredients: wood, water and mud. Petrification of the wood found in the Petrified Forest began during the Triassic Period when the primitive conifers fell to the ground and into the waterways. The logs were then swept downstream with sediment and other debris. The logs in the Petried Forest were deposited in the plain by rivers that originated from the Mogollon Highland volcanic mountain range. That layer of sediment is known today as the Chinle Formation. As the logs were deposited in the plain they were buried with mud and debris, beginning the petrification process. The mud that covered the logs contained volcanic ash, another key ingredient in the petrification process. When the volcanic ash began to decompose it released chemicals into the water and mud. As the water seeped into the wood the chemicals from the volcanic ash reacted to the wood and formed into quartz crystals. As the crystals grew over time, the wood became encased in the crystals which, over millions of years, turned the wood into stone. The best place to see petrified wood is in the Petrified Forest National Park. Take a stroll along the walkways.
- Pros:Interesting and Beautiful Place
- In a nutshell:Bring the Kids and Learn Something
The last tip (for now) for my page is The Tepees. These were named for the tepee shape of the formations. more travel advice
Here are some additional photos of the Painted Desert. For more information about the formation of the Painted Desert;... more travel advice
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