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Petrified tree with Painted Desert background
Newspaper Rock petroglyph site
Petrified Forest National Park is located in northeastern Arizona, along Interstate 40 between Holbrook and Navajo . It features one of the world's largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood, mostly of the species Araucarioxylon arizonicum. The park consists of two large areas connected by a north-south corridor. The northern area encompasses part of the multihued badlands of the Chinle Formation known as the Painted Desert. The southern area includes colorful terrain as well as several concentrations of petrified wood. Several American Indian petroglyph sites are also found in the southern area.
The Petrified Forest area was designated a National Monument on December 8, 1906. The Painted Desert was added later, and on December 9, 1962, the whole monument received national park status.
The park overs 93,532.57 acres (378.513 km²). Hiking opportunities are limited. The longest trail in the park extends for only two miles; the others are one mile or less. However, a road does extend through much of the park. Landmarks include the Agate House , built of petrified wood, and the Agate Bridge , a petrified log spanning a wash.
The petrified wood of the Petrified Forest is the 'State Fossil' of Arizona. The pieces of permineralized wood are fossil Araucariaceae, a family of trees that is extinct in the Northern Hemisphere but survives in isolated stands in the Southern Hemisphere. During the Upper (Late) Triassic, this desert region was moist and mild. In seasonal flooding, the trees washed from where they grew and accumulated on sandy delta mudflats, where they were buried by silt and periodically by layers of volcanic ash from volcanoes further to the west. The volcanic ash was the source of the silica that helped to permineralize the buried logs, replacing wood with silica, colored with oxides of iron and manganese.
Theft of petrified wood has remained a problem despite protection and despite the fact that nearby vendors sell wood collected legally from private land. Despite a guard force of seven National Park Service rangers, and fences, warning signs and the threat of a $275 fine, about 12 to 14 tons of the fossil wood disappears from the Petrified Forest every year.
The Petrified Forest (1936) is a film, a gangster thriller starring Bette Davis, which uses the Petrified Forest area as an atmospheric isolated setting.
Last updated: 05-07-2005 09:10:21
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04