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Petrified Forest National Park — Photo Collection

Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is known for significant Late Triassic fossils and one of the largest collections of petrified wood in the world.

Collecting petrified wood became popular with tourists and commercial interests once railroad acces became available in the 1800’s.
Set aside as a National Monument in 1906 with the use of the Antiquities Act to attempt to preserve what was left, the Petrified Forest grew with the addition of part of the Painted Desert and later became a National Park in 1962.
A 28-mile paved road passes through Petrified Forest National park. It begins 19 miles from Holbrook, Arizona on Highway 180 at the south end, passes over and then connects with Highway 40 on the North end. The Visitor Center is at the north end but you can enter from either end.
The following photos feature attractions located south to north in the park which is the direction I took so that I would reach the Painted Desert later in the day hoping for the best light.

Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona

Follow a 0.4 mile loop trail behind the Rainbow Forest Museum to see the largest petrified logs in the park.

Giant petrified log


If you enter from the south this will be you first opportunity to see the petrified logs close-up.

Petrified wood


The logs now are mostly composed of silica (quartz) with trace minerals—iron, manganese and carbon—providing the colors.

Close-up petrified log


The Rainbow Forest Museum, near the south entrance, is open all year with visitor information, fossil exhibits, orientation movie, limited food service in busy season, gift shop and public restrooms.

Rainbow Forest Museum


Long Logs, a 1.6 mile loop from the Rainbow Forest Museum, is one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the park.

Long Logs Trail at Petrified Forest National Park


Petrified wood on Agate House Trail, 2 miles round trip from Rainbow Forest Museum past Long Logs.

Petrified wood near the Agate House Trail


Archeologists believe Agate House was built about 700 years ago as a temporary home.

Agate House in the Petrified Forest


Agate Bridge.
Centuries of floodwater washed out an arroyo in the sandstone beneath a 110-foot long petrified log.
Conservationists concerned that the log bridge would fall without architectural support placed masonry pillars under it in 1911.
The pillars were replaced with a concrete span in 1917.

Agate Bridge


A 3-mile spur road to Blue Mesa takes you to more examples of petrified logs and erosion. Pedestal logs form when the softer rock below the petrified log erodes away. Eventually there won't be enough support for the log and it will fall into the valley below.

Pedestal log at Blue Mesa


Partially paved Blue Mesa Trail, a 1 mile loop, has a steep drop to a lower section through badland hills of bluish bentonite clay.

Blue Mesa Trail


Another view from the Blue Mesa Trail.

Blue Mesa Trail view


More than 650 petroglyphs adorn boulders, including one known as Newspaper Rock, in the Puerco River Valley.

Newspaper Rock, Petrified Forest National Park


The largest concentration of petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park, these designs were scratched into the desert varnish on this rock 650 to 2000 years ago.

Newspaper Rock right side


A little further north ancestral Puebloan people left their mark near the Puerco Pueblo ruins with more petroglyphs.

Petroglyphs near Puerco Pueblo


Continuing north and crossing Highway 40 there are several view points for the Painted Desert.
This panorama was shot at Pintado Point.

Pintado Point Painted Desert panorama


The Painted Desert Inn, National Historic Landmark, originally constructed of petrified wood and other native stone about 1920.

Painted Desert Inn, National Historic Landmark


Now serving as a museum, The Painted Desert Inn has suffered severe structural damage and had multiple repairs/updates.

View from the Painted Desert Inn


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Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2016 Lee W. Nelson