Similarly to Joshua Tree, shortly after leaving a major metro area, the Interstate led to a stunning national park…This time, it was Petrified Forest. Take a good look at the landscape picture above…It is almost impossible to imagine that this arid, desert landscape was once a tropical rainforest !!! 225 million years ago, the continents had not yet separated, and this region of Arizona was actually close to the ocean and the climate was tropical. They say that if the various geological plates had stayed where they are, this area would have a climate similar to Costa Rica. In the Triassic Age, Arizona was teaming with plant and animal life.
As the trees died and fell to the ground, they became covered by silt. The minerals in this soil were absorbed into the tree matter, replacing the carbons. The trees hardened and petrified. The other pics above are illustrations of the petrified wood in the park…And it is everywhere!!! While forests of ancient trees. In fact, the ranger at the Welcome Center stressed that no petrified wood can be taken out of the park.
The other outstanding feature of this park is the animal fossils…These were not obvious or marked on nature trails…But the experts in this science field have field days going out to the petrified forests and digging for all kinds of plant and animal fossils.
This National Park is accesible From I 40 just east of Flagstaff. If you are passing through, give yourself as little as a couple hours to drive through this ancient landscape and imagine a hot, humid river plain with thick vegetation and dinosaurs roaming the landscape. A real-life science fiction…