A June 2004 trip
to Petrified Forest National Park by mikehanneman
Quote: An inside look at what makes the Petrified Forest work!
In June of 2004, my son and I were set to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon but had a day to take in some sights in Arizona. I suggested the Petrified Forest in eastern Arizona, just off Interstate 40.
We had spent the night in Flagstaff and started our journey early in the day. We had a bit of a hard time trying to get into the south end of the park from Holbrook. Eventually we hit the south side of the park and visited a gift shop. There were a lot of neat and expensive pieces of petrified wood. I liked the black ones, which represent about 10% of all petrified wood.
Scott and I headed into the park. We were about a mile from the entrance station when I decided to pull off the road. We went into a field of sand, dirt, and petrified wood. I was changing my shoes when the ranger came by and asked if we needed any help. I always try to visit with the rangers because they are interesting and can supply good information about the parks. We spoke for about 10 minutes about his history with the Park Service. He said that during the 9/11 crisis, he was called up to help with our nation's security on the East Coast. The ranger also mentioned he was at the Grand Canyon for about 4 or 5 years before being transferred to the Petrified Forest. When he was at the Grand Canyon, he said that his wife hated it and left him. We spotted his new wife on horseback out in the desert, riding with some scientists, through his binoculars.
Scott and I continued to go into the field and explore the petrified pieces of wood on the desert floor: big pieces, little pieces, fragmented pieces, and parts of bigger logs. After about 20 minutes, we headed up to the Rainbow Forest Museum, where the Giant Logs are. BIG LOGS! I enjoyed the map of the United States that showed a piece of petrified wood on each state in our country! There wasn't too much to see around the Crystal Forest. The sign said that there had been a lot of theft with the Crystal Forest. I also like the way the Tepees looked, with distinct white layers of sandstone with caps of clay. The darker layers are caused by higher carbon content and the red colors are from iron-stained siltstone and iron oxide. We saw a prong-horned antelope in the middle of the park all by itself. It must of been a stray, I guess. There are a lot of fossils in the park from 225 million years ago, the Late Trassic Period.
We didn't have much time, so we kept moving out of the park. On the north end is the Painted Desert. You could see for a long ways on this clear day! The ranger said that he helps load up pack mules and guides scientists into the Painted Desert for research.
I recommend the Petrified Forest for people and their families. It is educational and provides an unusual side trip off Interstate 40 in eastern Arizona.