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Cross Country Roadtrip: Petrified Forest

Thursday, March 17, 2016

 This post is part of a series about our Cross Country Roadtrip. To see all the previous posts, click here.
Just like Joshua Tree, stopping at Petrified Forest was a spur of the moment stop. I am so glad we stopped here! This was my favorite national park, probably because I had zero expectations. It was just stunningly beautiful here!

The first section that we drove through was the Painted Desert. We went up a small hill and then the road curved around and we saw the Flattops. Each layer of the Flattop is a different color. Each color was caused by the erosion of softer mineral deposits from beneath a harder and more erosion-resistant layer of sandstone. Each layer is from a different period of time.

This is the Blue Mesa section.

Next we headed in the petrified forest area. Our first stop was Agate Bridge. Some 225 million years ago, numerous tall trees washed into the floodplain, where a mix of silt, mud and volcanic ashes buried the logs. The sediment cut off oxygen and slowed the logs decay. Silica-laden groundwater seeped through the logs and replaced the original wood tissues with silica deposits.
Eventually the silica crystallized into quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood. Later, centuries of scouring floodwaters washed out the arroyo beneath this 110-foot long petrified log and formed a natural bridge. The petrified log, harder than the sandstone around it, resisted erosion and remained suspended as the softer rock beneath it washed away.
The concrete support was added in 1910. There was a sign that said the support will eventually give way.

All those tiny dots are petrified logs.

This formation is called Newspaper Rock. The darker portions of the rock have over 650 petroglyphs.

This is the closest petrified log that I got to see. It was surprisingly more colorful than I expected.

We all loved this park, and I'm so glad we made this detour!
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