I feel sorry for the Petrified Forest out in sleepy eastern Arizona because it is a glittering gemstone of a national park but it hangs in the shadows of the Grand Canyon. If people know one thing about Arizona it’s that we have the Grand Canyon! How can any other natural landmark compete with that?! While the Grand Canyon proves tough competition I would like to put forward a strong contender for most breathtaking part of Arizona: the Petrified Forest National Park.
Located about 3.5 hours away from Phoenix and near the I-40 between Flagstaff and Albuquerque, the Petrified Forest remains an untouched example of what life was like millions of years ago. At the southern ranger station you can walk through an area with many different types of petrified wood. Massive pieces of wood (rocks?) that stand taller than most people and other smaller pieces with brilliant yellows, purples, and greens are all over. You can hike and camp throughout but if you’re pressed for time you are able to drive your car through the park, stopping as you go to take in the views. Along the way you’ll see petroglyphs from prehistoric peoples. It’s amazing how a picture someone embedded into a rock thousands of years ago can be preserved!As you can see in the photos above and below, petrified wood comes in all shapes, sizes, and especially colors. Ever wondered how they get those colors? Thanks to Wikipedia I present to you the definitive guide on petrified wood colorings:
- carbon – black
- cobalt – green/blue
- chromium – green/blue
- copper – green/blue
- iron oxides – red, brown, and yellow
- manganese – pink/orange
- manganese oxides – blackish/yellow
Interesting stuff, right? Later that day we stopped at a souvenir shop and bought two quarter sized pieces of petrified wood. The best part? They’re magnets and sitting pretty on our fridge! The rest of my pictures from the trip are below. Which one is your favorite?