Petrified Forest National Park

The high, dry, tableland of Petrified Forest National Park was once a vast floodplain. 225 million years ago, during the Triassic period, large, pine-like trees fell and were washed by swollen streams into this plain where the trees were covered with silt, mud, and volcanic ash. This blanket of deposits cut off oxygen and slowed the decay of the logs. Gradually, silica-bearing ground waters seeped through the logs, and bit-by-bit, encased the original wood tissues with silica deposits. As the process continued, the silica crystallized into quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood.

The floodplain eventually sank, was flooded, and covered with freshwater sediments. Later, the area was lifted far above sea level. This uplift created stresses that cracked the giant logs hidden underneath. In recent geologic times, wind and water wore away the accumulated layers of hardened sediments. Today, many petrified logs, as well as fossilized dinosaurs, reptiles, fish, and plants, remain exposed on the land’s surface. Wind and water continue to remove sediments, and erosion continues to uncover other remaining logs and fossils still buried below the surface. In some places up to 300 feet of fossil-bearing material remains.

The petrified logs, fossils, and the rocks locking them in place all testify to changes in the environment that occurred through millions of years. There are other stories in the area, as well. Sites throughout the park tell of human history in the area for more than 2,000 years. Archaeologists don’t know the entire story, but they do know that there were separate occupations, a cultural transition from wandering families to settled agricultural villages, and trading ties with neighboring villages. This story of early people, told by potsherds, rubble, and pictures on the rocks, fades about 1400 A.D.

In the mid-1800s U.S. Army mappers and surveyors arrived in the area and carried home stories of the remarkable “Painted Desert and its trees turned to stone.” Next, farmers, ranchers, and sightseers made their ways into the area. After a period of collecting the wood for souvenirs and numerous commercial ventures, territorial residents recognized that the supply of petrified wood was not endless and that it needed to be protected. Selected “forests” were set aside in 1906 as Petrified Forest National Monument. In 1932 some 2,500 acres more of the Painted Desert were purchase and added to the monument. In 1962, the area became Petrified Forest National Park, and in 1970, 50,000 acres were further set aside as wilderness.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Wolfman1961

February 21, 2014

There are so many beautiful sites in America. The Petrified Forest is another jewel in the arsenal of wonders around this country. The Sequoia Forest is another example of amazing parks. Yellowstone speaks volumes. All of these parks evoke emotion from my eyes.They should be protected for al time as a gift to American future generations.

Karen

November 26, 2013

This website helped me with a 8th grade research paper!

cassy-montez

November 2, 2013

thank you for the information!

eaa

February 12, 2013

This is what i need to finish my project thank you npca

report

January 17, 2013

wow, this helped me finish my report! i am soo thankful, my teacher would've killed me if i didnt finish it!

jaytripper

June 1, 2012

I can't a whole lot about the petrified forest.. I drove by it on I-10.. It was amazing, but what strikes me the most is I've been to alot of states and they all have something that is more than you could even imagine.. This country is huge and we can never understand all that's involved.. Jeez, yeah, I'm an idiot... Never mind... Was fun, though;..

kinsey

May 9, 2012

it's ok but needs a little bit more information

Carrie

March 4, 2012

Good Information

Marco

February 10, 2012

NPCA, I love your website.It is amazingly informational. You have every bit of informative resource to put on to your website. Thank you most whole-heartedly for your time, convenience, and effort to make my reporting experience a delightful subject. Once again, Thank You, and I hope you continue your amazing website.

Marc

February 10, 2012

thank you you helped me get through my report! My teacher would be very mad at me if I didn't get it done!

Oscar Meyer Wiener

February 10, 2012

This gave me all of the informaiona I needed! Thank you!

mo-moe

February 6, 2012

thank you you helped me get through my report

Gman

January 23, 2012

great info thankyou

Nana fied

December 1, 2011

I love this park it has so many great views!!!

Grafour

November 10, 2011

This is a great park worth seeing by anybody interested in national parks and nature in general. The experience was simply mesmerizing and we all were awed at what nature can produce. Of all the parks and natural monuments we visited in our four corner states vacation, the Petrified Forest National Park, along with Canyon de Chelly were the most fascinating and wonderful to see. Go see it if you are in the area or plan to visit one day as it is simply gorgeous and inspiring

Matthew

November 10, 2011

It was amazing to see the bueatiful wood and espescially the painted desert. They even have a real log cabin made of the petrified wood! It is a bueatiful park and should be reserved for time. Americas best national park. Anyone should visit.

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