It Happened Here: From NationalGeographic.com:
Much of the quartz that replaced the wood tissue 200 million years ago is tinted in rainbow hues. Many visitors cannot resist taking rocks, despite strict regulations and stiff fines against removing any material. To see if the petrified wood was actually disappearing at an alarming rate, resource managers established survey plots with a specific number of pieces of wood; some were nearly barren in less than a week.
The problem is not new. Military survey parties passing through the region in the 1850s filled their saddlebags with the petrified wood. As word of these remarkable deposits spread, fossil logs were hauled off by the wagonload for tabletops, lamps, and mantels. In the 1890s gem collectors began dynamiting logs searching for amethyst and quartz crystals. To prevent further destruction of its unique bounty, the area was designated a national monument in 1906 and a national park more than a half century later.
Size: 221,552 acres
# Visitors: 644,648 in 2013. Attendance peaks in July, and is least in December.
Choices: From NationalParkTraveler.com:
(T)he park road runs just 28 miles through its 93,532 acres, so unless you exhibit some discipline you’ll cruise down the pavement, stop momentarily at the 22 overlooks, and be gone in a very small number of hours.
But if you prepare for a visit by studying a primer on the Late Triassic Period and the ensuing 200+ million years, and familiarize yourself with what’s to see and where to see it, you’ll arrive not only with a rudimentary knowledge of the wonders that exist within Petrified Forest’s borders, but also with a game plan for exploring this wondrous landscape.
Fees: Private vehicles are $10 for a 7 day pass.
Staying There: There are no developed campsites in the Park … perhaps to protect the natural resources that seem to walk out all too easily.
Contact Info:1 Park Road
P.O. Box 2217
Petrified Forest, AZ 86028 (928) 524-6228