Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

No drive through the southwest is complete without a cruise through the Petrified Forest.  This is an ancient fossilized tropical forest that existed 225 million years ago in a shallow tropical ocean.  If you are silly enough to stay in your car and just drive the entire park, you will have missed everything.  There are many paved hiking loops that will allow you to easily get up close and personal with the many artifacts and petrified wood objects...which are still in their original positions after all these years.

At my first stop I thought it was interesting that they had a resident raven to enforce the "don't take anything "rule

in the background one can see the chunks of petrified wood scattered about the landscape as though someone tossed a handful of pebbles on the ground

Each piece of wood hardens and is colorized in a unique way.  Some of the surfaces have been polished smooth over the many years and are as reflective as a mirror would be.  I found the whole experience mesmerizing.

Below are somber beds of mudstone that were formed many years ago during the Chinle formation
here it appears that an entire tree had fallen and broken into a series of chunks, each hardened and beautiful.

Another unique advantage of this park is that there is a visitor center at each end, you can see the very informative film in either location; so if you miss the first one, you can catch the second!  I only allotted a few hours here, but I saw enough to make a mental note to stop again on my next southwest sojourn...there are so many places to hike here and all are unique.  If you are here in the summer bring tons of water and sunscreen!  Another advantage of traveling off-season!

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