Way More Than Just Wood Rocks!

Our trip had a rough start.  We knew intellectually we would be trading trailer problems from full time use for problems due to inconsistent use but we didn’t expect so many so fast.  In frustration Randy even said the words “It’s time to sell the trailer.” 

fullsizeoutput_5384Driving to northern Arizona was fine but while setting up I noticed that a rock lodged under our kitchen slide tore the vinyl flooring.   Then our new house based DISH receiver, that was supposed to work with our current satellite dish in the trailer, didn’t.  Randy and DISH technical support eventually determined the problem and the part fix.  

Finally, and most problematic because you can live with a torn floor and no satellite reception, a valve in the water system broke and we were without water.  Randy eventually kluged a fix so we had some water in the trailer while using the pump but it is a very temporary fix.

Most of the next morning was spent trying to run down needed parts.  It took hours but a plan for eventually acquiring the parts emerged so we could go have some fun!

fullsizeoutput_53c8We visited Petrified Forest National Park and found way more than we expected!   We began at a visitor center with an orientation film and museum.   

fullsizeoutput_53a2The museum showed us how this currently barren landscape looked during the Triassic Period, with forests, plants,  fish, dinosaurs and reptiles.  Think Costa Rica because that is where northern Arizona was before continental drift!


The area that is now northern Arizona was near the equator when the land was one continent called Pangea. 

fullsizeoutput_5392Plant and animal life were fossilized through continental drift and climate change.  The forests were buried by layers of sediment absorbing ground water, volcanic ash and minerals.  The minerals are responsible for the varied colors.




Many of the petrified logs look as though someone sawed them into pieces.  A ranger explained that the weight of the petrified logs cause them to break that way.

fullsizeoutput_539dAgate Bridge is a 110 foot petrified log spanning a gully.  In 1917 park personnel placed the concrete support but it is expected to eventually fall due to the stream below creating change.   It is no longer allowed to walk across the bridge.


There are amazing landscapes along the  26 mile park road with overlooks and hikes to explore.  This area is called Blue Mesa.



This area is called The Tepees, showing the layering so prevalent in the park.  There are an abundance of fossils contained in the layers, another of the park’s area of focus.


There are over 1000 archeologic sites related to the ancient peoples who traveled through and lived in the area for thousands of years.  


There are single and multi room pueblos. 


There are petroglyphs and solar calendars. 


See the bird with the frog!

More recently, Petrified Forest National Monument was established in 1906 after a request from the Arizona Territorial legislature.   The CCC worked in the area from 1934 to 1941. The monument gained national park status in 1962.


This is one of the original entrance stations.  Over time these stations were used as restroom facilities and museums.  They now provide a cool breezeway with information placards.

Route 66 went through Petrified Forest National monument and it is yet another area of park emphasis.

fullsizeoutput_53c5Travelers could spend the night or have refreshment at the Painted Desert Inn.  It is now a museum featuring the inn,  route 66 and the Harvey girls but was unfortunately closed by the time we arrived.  Another day….

We had enjoyable hours exploring the park but could have spent days   There are so many hikes and overlooks we just didn’t have time for.   Petrified Forest National Park is so much more than just petrified trees!

One of the reasons the Arizona territory wanted national protection for the area was concern about rocks and artifacts being stolen.  The current park position is to debunk the idea that there was massive theft and vandalism but there were a couple letters on display from people returning rocks.


There are businesses outside of the park selling petrified wood.  There is even a concessionaire inside the park selling items that were sourced from the outside.  The philosophy is that if there is a way to acquire petrified wood legally most people will choose that option.


We did!  

About Serene

Former full time RVers, transitioned to homeowners and travelers. We've still got a map to finish! Home is the Phoenix area desert and a small cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona.
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8 Responses to Way More Than Just Wood Rocks!

  1. Mark P McClelland says:

    What a frustrating start to your trip. Sorry to hear about your woes, and I hope that they get resolved quickly. We had so many problems our first night in our first trailer that I was ready to abandon it in the state park! You’re in a beautiful area with much to see. Smooth travels ahead!!

  2. Teri McClelland says:

    That is a beautiful piece of wood! How big is it? I bet you already have the perfect spot in your new house picked out for it when you return.
    Hope you get all of your ‘part-time’ trailer problems worked out.
    Mark and I visited the Petrified Forest in the early 80’s. Your pictures immediately reminded me of that trip!
    That is a beautiful area with lots to see. Look forward to more pictures!

    • Serene says:

      It is about 8×6 inches and still cost $50. That seemed a bargain compared to some that we saw! It has some bark side exposure and I liked that. One of the advantages to having a house is being able to buy stuff again! We wouldn’t have bought it to take in the trailer, like The Long, Long Trailer movie.

  3. We were there two years ago, but the weather wasn’t good, still planing to visit it again and make better photos, like are yours 🙂


  4. Miller Rosie says:

    This report, pictures and everything means so much to me because I first went there in 1952 with my family as we drove to Sacramento to be with my Aunt’s family for Christmas. I remember this Park so vividly. It its ok to take pieces of petrified wood out and we did. I still have mine and feel guilty. Then Bill and I have traveled through there around 2010 maybe. Thank you for such a thorough report. The pictures are unbelievable.

  5. Janice says:

    Sorry for your trailer issues, but sounds like Randy has them under control! What a great blog about your travels. We have so many places we need to explore in Arizona-hoping we get to do more this year. Travel safe and tell Randy hello.

  6. Pingback: NM in NM:   El Morro | Serene Wandering

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