The works of nature is always astonishing and its beauty is ever portrayed in mysterious ways. Petrified Forest National Park is located in the counties of Apache and Navajo in the northeast of Arizona. The park is crossed by the historic U.S. Route 66 and Puerco River from east to west. The park covers a surface area of about 146 square miles and got its name from its large deposit of petrified wood in some parts of the park. Petrified wood could be defined as wood that has gradually turned into stone over time through a variety of natural compositions.
The park is usually covered in steppe, a semi-desert shrub, and also has a large area of colorful badlands that have experienced serious erosion over time. The park is noted for its large fossil deposit of fallen trees that used to exist about 225 million years ago, in an era known as the Late Triassic. These fossil deposits of logs extend into part of the Chinle Formation and create the beautiful and colorful sight that inspired the naming of the Painted Forest.
Photo Credit: Eric Henderson on flickr
Petrified Forest offers a good adventure trip for anyone who loves hiking, photography, backpacking and sightseeing. However, a larger portion of the approximately 600,000 annual visitors come to the park to explore its rich composition of fossils that holds information from up to 225 million years back. The park opens its doors 364 days a year, with the exception of December 25.
Among the many scholars and researchers who visit Petrified Forest to explore its rich remnants include people from varying fields of study such as Geology, Paleontology, History, Biology and Archeology. The Geologists and Paleontologists explore this forest’s rich rock forms in order to decipher certain myths of nature.
The rich fauna Petrified Forest which includes about 447 animal species attracts a lot of Biologist and animal lovers to the park, who come to admire and learn more about these exciting species. Some of the most common animal species that could be found in the park includes coyotes, bobcats, and pronghorns. This forest alone is also home to about 10 different bat species. You could also find rare insects in their natural habitats such as scorpions, praying mantises, cicadas and centipedes. The colorful western meadowlark birds are also frequent the park to transmit their beautiful melodies to listening fans at Petrified Forest.
Archeologists have formed about 600 sites around the Park, and have been able to prove that the first inhabitants of the park settled there about 8,000 years back. Petroglyphs could be found carved into rocks at strategic locations of the park such as Puerco Pueblo, with mysterious meanings yet to be unveiled.
If you would love to learn more about the volcanic activities within the forest and the whole idea of Petrification, then take a rendezvous with David Storck on the Meadow Walk. This is an exciting half mile guided walk that would thrill and educate you on all you need to know about petrification and the petrified fossils. You would also see deposits of volcanic material as high as 100 feet, which contains material such as iron, rhyolite, obsidian and petrified wood chunks. This is also an opportunity to come in close contact with native trees such as douglas-fir, madrone, live oaks, and rare flowers.