The Petrified Forest is really a testament to how amazing our less acknowledged National Parks are. With more than 13,000 years of human history and culture contained within, there really is a lifetime of knowledge that is able to be taken away.
The history of the Petrified Forest area goes back more than 225 million years. Scientists believe that, eons ago, great herds of dinosaurs roamed through forests of tall conifers, while nearby rivers teemed with armor-scaled fish. The great columns of petrified wood scattered across the desert date from around that time.
Nature produced the mineralized wood under extremely specific conditions. The trees were uprooted by great floods or perhaps flows of lava, then washed down from the highlands and buried by silt and volcanic ash. Water seeping through the wood replaced decaying organic material cell by cell with multicolored silica.
Eventually, the land where the great logs were buried was lifted up by geological upheaval, and wind and rain began to wear away the overlying sediments, finally exposing the long-buried, now petrified wood.
Each piece of wood is unique, burning with the colors of the Painted Desert, of which Petrified Forest National Park is a part. Some of the great trunks still bear the annual rings that reveal their life histories in prehistoric times.
As I hiked through this area, I was truly humbled by the history surrounding me. Being surrounded by objects that are older than human civilization had me feeling so small. At the same time, knowing that in all of that time, humans are the only (known) beings to master algebra cause me to feel huge and important as a species. A nice balance between the two emotions led me through the rest of the park satisfied.
Closest Supercharger – Holbrook AZ 24mi
2096 Navajo Blvd, Holbrook, AZ 86025