Petrified Forest National Park

This is excerpted from a post I wrote in the "Jeweler's Jungle" topic of the Arts & Crafts Forum on Delphi, and was written long before I had any idea what the pictures might turn out like.

19814 13NOV97-2351 Jewelers Jungle
     Petrified Forest/Painted Desert Nat'l Pa
     From: STACKMAN     To: ALL

[...] We didn't get on the road til just before noon, heading west on I-40. We bypassed the northern entrance (for the Painted Desert) and went on to Holbrook for lunch. (less than 2-1/2 hrs from the Grand Canyon, Leigh!) Then we took US-180 east to the southern entrance [of the Park] which is the Petrified Forest entrance. Entrance is $10 per vehicle.

I've seen petrified wood before. It looked basically like wood, only it was hard. The minerals that invaded the wood grain of these ancient trees, though, contained silica and iron oxide and manganese and who knows what all else. Anyway, the petrified wood of eastern Arizona contains a fantastic range of colors and minerals! Ancient trees-become-boulders litter the landscape, each one with its own color combination. One may be oxide red with some quartz. The next one will be amythest and ochre and have a surface that glitters like freshly fallen snow. Then a pink quartz base with crimson lines on the surface and deep gray/purple substrate. The combinations of mineral and color are just infinite. I wanted to take them all home! If it were possible to collect some of these minerals from the Petrified Forest, it would truly be a Jeweler's Jungle. (or maybe Jeweler's Heaven! ;)

petrified log bunches of logs close petrified log
(Click on the thumbnails for the full size versions.)

crow in desert You're not allowed to pick anything up in the National Park, but the gift shop at the southern entrance has a wide variety of these wonders for sale. One polished slice of tree trunk about 30" in diameter had a price tag of $3000 on it. It was a wonder to behold! [...] crimson logs

I don't know what I was expecting from the "Painted Desert" but I guess I was somewhat chromically underwhelmed after the variety and intensity of the colors in the fallen trees of the Petrified Forest. Don't get me wrong. The panoramas were breathtaking... from a formation point of view rather than one of color. There's one overlook in particular where you can see a mountain [Humphrey's Peak in Flagstaff] over 110 miles away. There are gorges and dry river beds, rock formations, and well defined strata. [...]

looking north looking west-see Flagstaff looking east

We only had 2-1/2 hours to traverse this 26 mile long road (the park closes at 5:00), but could easily have spent twice the time to see each of the highlighted features and walk all the trails.

All-in-all, a well worthwhile detour for anyone who's a rock-hound, fossil buff, or in any other way interested in rocks and minerals.

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posted 9 Oct '98

Steve Ackman, 1997,'98 ©
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