Petrified Forest National Park: hidden gem just off I-40 N. Arizona

Petrified Forest National ParkClick on photo for full size panorama

Petrified Forest National Park is an easy exit from I-40 in the wide open spaces of Northern Arizona. Perhaps it is those vast desert plains, or deep blue skies, that keep drivers focused on the road to Grand Canyon or beyond. They are missing a starkly haunting place of spectacularly colored patterned petrified logs, and not so easily seen, but just as spectacular: dinosaur remains, petroglyphs, and fossils, and the mystery that surrounds their existence here.

Recently Claire and I were lucky enough to catch a hike guided by the park paleontologist and an interpretive ranger. The short, two mile or so, hike took us away from the road and interpretive signs and into the washes and flats where dinosaurs died 225 million¬† years ago in the late Triassic Period. We found pieces of bone and Claire even found an intact tooth.¬† The stark landscape adds to the mystery and amazement of the realization that you are holding a thing that was once part of a living Stagonolepis so long ago. Nothing like science to put one’s lifespan into perspective.

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