Petrified Forest National Park -- Driving Tour (4-15-17)
Petrified Forest National Park is located in northeastern Arizona and is home to a fantastic landscape marked by desert buttes, mesas, badlands, and of course huge concentrations of ancient petrified wood. The park encompasses some 146,000-acres (230 sq. mi.) and was originally established as a National Monument in 1906 through the Antiquities Act signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. Over the intervening years much of the parks infrastructure was built through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Monument received National Park status in 1962.
Though rich in natural and cultural history the main attraction of the park is the huge numbers of ancient petrified logs which literally cover the landscape in the southern sections of the park. These logs are actually fossils, remnants of trees which grew in the area some 225 million years ago. The cause of their formation is actually quite interesting. Back in the time in which the landscape here was covered in huge forests some of the trees fell in river channels and were subsequently buried in silica-rich sediments containing volcanic ash. Over the eons this silica ever so slowly replaced the organic materials contained in the logs and replaced them with quartz crystals containing numerous other trace elements resulting in what we call petrified wood. The colors of these preserved logs are a result of the types of the trace minerals which they contain. The bright reds, oranges, and yellows are primarily caused by concentrations of iron and manganese while blue and green wood is created by traces of cobalt, chromium, and copper.
Needless to say there's a lot to see in this park. Unfortunately, on this particular trip, we only had a precious few hours in which to get a taste of the area. Due to this fact we only were able to take a couple short hikes...the Crystal Forest and Giant Logs Trails...which you can see in accompanying albums. This particular page is intended to share the parts of the park you can see on a simple drive-through. Most of the viewpoints along the park road are included here as well as some of the historic and informational structures within the park. So, I invite you along on a brief tour of this magnificent and fascinating National Park...its a quick tour but I think you'll get a good taste here for what Petrified Forest has to offer.