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Free Traveling Guides » States » Arizona » Arizona National Parks

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Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

petrified forest

Petrified Forest National Park is one of America's most interesting national parks. It contains America's largest deposits of petrified wood, along with a treasure trove of more than 500 archaeological sites. The park is also known for the undulating expanse of solidified sand dunes, which at different times of the day take on different colors.

The name of the park is due to the rich collection of petrified wood found mainly in the south section of the park. The park preserves a fossilized prehistoric forest of gigantic trees, which has been unearthed by erosion. The original cells of the wood have been replaced by multicolored crystals of quartz. Cross-sections, cut through with diamond saws and polished, look stunning, and can be seen in the two visitor centers of the park. These centers are located thirty miles apart at the north and south entrances.

Petrified Forest has plant and animal fossils going back over 200 million years. However, since the trees are segmented, crumbling and very dark, they might not appear as exciting as you would expect. Here and there rough concrete walkways have been laid over the terrain - and often over the tree trunks themselves. The Long Logs Walk near the southern entrance is probably the best section in this respect.

The northern section of the national park - site off the main visitor center and entrance station, is renowned for views of the Painted Desert, a vast expanse of sand dunes. The park appears bluish shades of gray and reddish shades of brown at different times of the day.

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