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Preserved History: Petrified Forests of the U.S.

Amazing collections of fossilized wood known as petrified forests can be found throughout the United States. The wood found in these ‘forests’ are preserved in silica-rich environments using a process known as permineralization. This process leaves stumps, logs, and tree trunks seemingly frozen in time. If you want to discover the preserved history of our country’s beautiful landscape, check out the petrified forests of the US! No matter where you’re located, there is probably a petrified forest in a state near you!

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

Located near Holbrook, Arizona, the Petrified Forest National Park is renowned for its large deposits of fossilized wood. When you make the trip here, not only will you get to explore the 28-mile roadway that takes you through the petrified forest, but you’ll also get to check out the painted desert too! The visitor center provides a lot of educational insights into the formation of the forest, and there are lots of great hiking trails to check out as well!

Ginkgo Petrified Forest, WA

Located in Vantage, Washington, Ginkgo Petrified Forest is a 7,470-acre park regarded by many as one of the most unusual fossilized forests in the world. The park was formally registered as a National Natural Landmark in 1965 and it offers camping year round at the Wanapum Recreation Area. There are even great boating and fishing opportunities on Wanapum Lake, so bring your collapsible fishing pole and some bait! Hiking trails and a small museum are also located on site.

Mississippi Petrified Forest, MS

Located in Flora, Mississippi, this primeval forest is scattered with the remains of preserved trees that once stood over one hundred feet tall! A well-maintained nature trail guides you through the story of this petrified forest and trail markers provide information at different points of interest. During your visit you can also explore the Earth Science Museum, try your hand at the gem mining flume, or have a picnic beneath the large sheltered pavilion! An on-site campground provides easy overnight accommodations.

Eden Valley, WY

Located near Farson, Wyoming, Eden Valley consists of three petrified wood collecting areas. Rather than being marketed as a tourist attraction, Eden Valley is a secluded haven for rockhounds eager to excavate petrified wood specimens with their own dust-covered hands! Explore the legendary Blue Forest, the Oregon Buttes region, and the Big Sandy Reservoir north of Farson to get up close and personal with incredible petrified specimens. Fossilized wood from this area is notorious for its beautiful light-blue hues.

Yellow Cat Flats, UT

Located roughly 30 minutes from Thompson near Crescent Junction, Utah, Yellow Cat Flats is another collecting area like Eden Valley where beautiful fossilized wood can be discovered! The area is extremely desolate, so prepare for some peace and solitude when you make your visit. Also come prepared to rough it, as there is no bathroom, eatery, or cell phone service in the area. To explore and unearth the best collection of petrified wood pieces, head closer to the cliffs found north of the flatlands!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Located in Medora, North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is appropriately named after a president known for his conservationist efforts. The park itself is believed to hold the third largest petrified forest in the United States, making it a great destination to look back on the geological history of the land. To best observe the petrified specimens in this park, lace up your hiking boots and head down the Petrified Forest Loop Trail. As a moderate-to-strenuous hike, you can expect to spend between 5-6 hours on the 10.3-mile trail. Along the journey you’ll get to check out the ancient fossilized forests, as well as the untamed landscape of the badlands!

The Petrified Forest, CA

Located in Calistoga, CA, The Petrified Forest is the result of a 3.4 million-year-old volcanic explosion erupting from what is now known today as Mt. St. Helena. This violent blast decimated forests, eventually leaving behind the remains of seemingly stone-like trees which scatter the landscape today in a natural display of multi-colored wonder. During your visit, be sure to browse the gift shop or tag along on a docent-guided tour. You can also explore the trails at your own pace with a self-guided walk if you prefer.

Gilboa Fossil Forest, NY

Located in the small town of Gilboa, New York, The Gilboa Fossil Forest is famous for being the oldest fossil forest on earth! Dating back to the Devonian Period over 380 million years ago, a trip to this petrified playground will be like taking a long walk back in time. This fossil site is so interesting and unique that geologists and researchers are still studying the landscape today looking for clues to the past! During your visit, be sure to stop into the Gilboa Museum to see some of the more impressive specimens collected from the forest, as well as to learn more about the geological makeup of the area.

Petrified forests are little-known legends of the United States' landscape documenting the past and preserving it for future generations. During your visit to any one of these amazing fossilized forests, please be respectful and follow proper etiquette by leaving the landscape as untouched as possible so future visitors can enjoy it just as much as you did!

Have you explored a petrified forest? Tell us how your visit went in the comments! We’d love to hear about your experiences with these geological wonders!

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