Tuesday May 2, 2023
Tim has wanted to visit the Petrified Forest National Park since he was a little kid. We took a day trip from our RV resort in Camp Verde to fulfill this wish.
The ride there was beautiful and very, very remote. We went the scenic way on highway 87 through Winslow (separate short post for Winslow) on the way there and the interstate on the way back.
The drive through the park is 28 miles long and there are multiple areas to pull off and explore. Reba was welcome as long as she was on a leash and we saw tons of other dogs enjoying the park with their families.
The park sits between Navajo and Apache land in northeastern Arizona and averages 5400 feet in elevation.
It is filled with magnificent examples of petrified trees. During the late Triassic Epoch, 225 million years ago, the now extinct trees fell into a huge lake and were quickly covered with sediment. Over time the organic matter was replaced with crystals and other rock and they became the gorgeous petrified wood you find today. We learned that these specimens were petrified BEFORE dinosaurs roamed the earth. You can learn the science on Wikipedia – search petrified forest.
The park has areas of badlands where the soft sedimentary and clay layers of the earth have eroded. This creates gorgeous canyon-like areas where you can observe the various layers in their colorful glory. One stop featured a one mile hike into badlands. It was incredibly peaceful and so beautiful! You can see here why the area is called the Painted Desert.
The park has such a variety of things to explore. In several areas you will find the ruins of pueblos and kivas where ancient people lived. In others you can view some of the thousands of petroglyphs (stone carvings) on the stones.
Thousands of pounds of petrified wood are stolen from the park each year, but responsible visitors can purchase a piece in the gift store. These specimens were legally harvested outside the park and the funds go into the park’s preservation efforts.
We did buy a few pieces in the gift shop to add to Timmy’s rock collection that he has had since he was a kid!