Petrified Forest NP: South Visitor Center and Giant Logs Trail

We now present some pics taken when we visited Petrified Forest NP in northeastern Arizona last September (2017).

A few words of clarification are needed here.  The Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center is what we call the South Visitor Center for this national park.  There is another visitor center located at the northern entrance to the park close to Interstate 40.  The park ranger at the park’s south entrance shared his opinion that this visitor center was better than the one at the north entrance.

In this specimen of petrified wood in the museum, we see that the surface has reflective qualities similar in effect to glass.  This may be a natural property of the surface of this specimen, but this reflective property might have been enhanced through the sealing process that is some times applied to such pieces.  The few souvenir pieces that we purchased from a gift shop outside the park had been treated with lacquer(s) and do have glass like properties.  The surface of the “wood” is often smooth and hard like glass.



We stopped by this visitor center on each of the 2 consecutive days we visited the park.



From the rear exit of the visitor center, you can begin the Giant Logs paved trail.



Let’s go back inside the museum slash visitor center.  In addition to a gift shop area, there is an area with a short film about the natural processes at work in the park and what this land looked like hundreds of millions of years ago.  Here is one of a few dinosaur skeletons on display.



Another fossilized skeleton on display is seen here.  Back when these creatures roamed this land, it was a swampy area and not the high elevation desert that it is now.



Another nearby view.



We include this pic as it shows a small dinosaur (flying reptile) riding along the larger animal.  It is not clear if this is to indicate some sort of symbiotic biological relationship between the 2 species, or is merely artistic license on the part of the exhibit designer.



Just outside the museum/visitor center, we walk among the fossilized wood.



It helps to take the free paper trail map to make sure you get to see all the sights there are.  The paved trail meanders around quite a bit.



Here is a scene along the trail.  Some preserved logs are quite long (longer still on the nearby Long Logs Trail).



Large chunks of the stone wood are littered around the trail.



Various colors seen in the stones are likely caused by differing mineral concentrations.  From the souvenir pieces we bought, the petrified wood is fairly heavy with a good density per unit of volume.



Another view along the walking trail.  The fact that it is paved allows for park visitors with mobility challenges to get out and enjoy this area of the park.



Looking down on ancient stone or the fossilized remains of an ancient tree.



In this image, we get an idea of the thickness of the tree trunk that Lucy is standing by.



This park is nice for several reasons.  It is not very crowded due to its location.  (We did not see the tour buses that are often seen at more popular and more crowded parks, such as Arches in Utah.)  It has the petrified wood, and in some areas very colorful landscapes (as in Blue Mesa).  As well, a visitor gets a sense of the solitary nature and the immense size of the land and sky above.  One might say that this is the magic or the enchantment of such a desert locale.



Another view along the meandering walking trail.  Okay, this is not true hiking, but one does see some good sights along the way.



We are not sure about this next photo, but we might have used an enhancing feature of the camera to accentuate the colors.  (We cannot recall now.)



The remains of a forest from 200 million or so years ago are seen here.  According to earth scientists, Arizona was back then much closer to the equator and the climate and flora were tropical (continental drift).



A piece seen along the walk.



A final look.



copyright 2018 –

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