The Petrified Forest is a National Park in Arizona that celebrates the strange process that wood goes through when it’s left alone for thousands of years.
It looks like wood on the outside, but it’s turned into stone.
Don’t be fooled by the name, you aren’t going to find lush green forest here – this National Park is in the heart of the desert and there are barely any living trees at all. But there used to be, and those trees have fallen and broken and over time have turned to stone.
Wood turned to stone.
And these stone trees are absolutely beautiful. Some of them have turned to Quartz and sparkle in the sunshine in all kinds of colours. We stopped in one of the many road-side car parks to walk along one of the trails. We chose the Crystal Forest Loop as it promised lots of the colourful shiny logs, and we weren’t disappointed; it was hot walking in the desert but the easy trail was full of these unusual and beautiful trees. We were even treated to a sky that could have inspired The Simpsons’ opening sequence.
The view from Kachina Point, Petrified Forest National Park.
To start with I thought someone from the National Park Service had been around and used a chainsaw to chop the trees up and then cement them into the ground to stop people taking them home or selling them (it is illegal to take the petrified wood from the park; on entry into the park you are given a ticket on which you can report anyone you spot stealing). But it’s all natural, and it’s weirdness is one of the reasons this place is protected – sand dunes that look like cement, trees that are now stone, fossils of prehistoric creatures, and colourful desert views.
Petrified wood stuck in solid sediment.
We also stopped at Kachina Point which provides stunning views of the painted desert, and is the starting (or finishing) point for many back country walks possible in this huge desert.
Quartz from wood.
The Petrified Forest is definitely one of the more unusual National Parks in the USA, and it was well worth the visit.
Have you been? What are your top tips for visiting the Petrified Forest?