Stone Worlds and Badlands
The Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona – USA – was established in 1962. Over 650,000 tourists visit the national park every year. The size of the park is about 380 km². The main attraction of the national park are the petrified tree trunks. The small town of Holbrook is located about 45 km west of the national park in Navajo County. The national park can be reached via Interstate-40.
Petrified tree trunk in the Petrified Forest Conservation Area
According to Liuxers, the Anasazi Native Americans lived in the area of today’s Petrified Forest National Park until the 13th century. Numerous former Anasazi residences can still be seen in the park area.
Looting and destruction of the Petrified Forest
In the 19th century, attention was first paid to the petrified forests of Arizona. A railway line was built to open up the area. In a stone mill, the valuable natural treasures, the petrified, silicified logs and remains were ground into abrasives. What a destruction of this natural wonder!
Petrified trunk parts in the Petrified Forest National Park
Collectors plundered the area, valuable stone monuments were rigorously taken, stolen. Tourists and institutions such as museums blasted and smashed the millions of years old, valuable stone asset to be able to take it with them. The petrified trees were also sawed into discs. The discs were then polished. This really made the colors of the minerals shine.
Apart from the petrified monuments, the Painted Desert and the remains of the settlement of the Anasazi, the Petrified Forest National Park has not much more to offer to the visitor’s eye. The park area is mostly covered by desert grass and is otherwise a treeless wasteland. Today, it is illegal to take any piece of rock out of the park, subject to penalty. If you still want a souvenir, you can get it in souvenir shops outside the national park or at the park entrances. These rocks were then not collected in the park area.
Flora and fauna in the Petrified Forest National Park
The flora and fauna of the Petrified Forest is not exceptionally diverse. The pronghorn antelopes are a highlight of the animal world. These animals cope well with the lack of water in the park. The flora has nothing extraordinary to offer apart from yuccas, juniper and cacti.
Painted Desert – different colored layers of rock
A part of the national park in the southwest of the USA is called the Painted Desert. There you can discover extremely colorful layers of rock on the rock formations of the desert. The colors range from rusty red, brown, grey, yellow, violet to black.
The almost 300 buildings are still in a fairly good condition. The largest former home of the Anasazi is a 150-chamber pueblo. The Anasazi subsisted on hunting and gathering fruits and berries. Some farming was also practiced. They left the large area of the Petrified Forest National Park completely, probably because of a prolonged period of drought.
At the end of the 19th century, the destruction had progressed so far that the population was finally calling for the area to be protected. Finally, in 1906, the area received the protected status of a National Monument. The Petrified Forest National Park was only established in 1962.
Park management of the Petrified Forest
The park administration in the visitor center offers park tours. Bus tours through the park area are also offered. As a rule, the park is open all year round. The national park is only closed for a short time when winter sets in or when there is black ice. Best time to visit is from May to September. Park visitors in a hurry can cross the national park on a paved road in 45 minutes, but you should reserve a day to visit the park. Many of the park’s highlights can be seen from the road. Newspaper Rock is the best vantage point.
Other protected areas
The Jasper Forest outside also has petrified wood. In the Crystal Forest area, numerous archaeological testimonies, such as crystals, were irretrievably destroyed or stolen by collectors. Efforts are currently being made to preserve the affected areas as protected areas such as the Petrified Forest National Park.
Camping and hiking
There are very few hiking trails in the park area. Camping is possible with permission. The visitor receives the permit in the Visitor Center. The most important rule is to have sufficient water supplies. One should know the desert climate of summer. Very cold at night, extremely hot during the day. There are no really modern campsites to be found in the park area. You can also stay overnight in nearby Holbrook or in nearby Sun Valley. Of course, there are also campsites and RV parks outside of the national park.