Petrified Rocks State Park

4 Nov


This was another of Utah’s lovely State Park camp grounds nestled beside a reservoir with the additional attraction of an interesting hike. We checked in for two nights and were pleased to find a water and electric site with lake views and internet too! Yeah for Utah State Parks.

The trail head started on a steep upwards gradient giving great views back to the valley below and time to catch breath while looking at them. We very quickly found our first chunks of petrified wood but did not realise the amount still for us to discover. The trail continued steeply upwards through the pine and juniper trees to a plateau with views of the distant mountains.



This huge bolder balanced on the edge only had what looked like a small amount of ‘mud’ propping it up.

Soon we spotted chunks of ‘wood’ which had emerged from the ground, looking closely we saw various mineral deposits which had solidified leaving a stone impression as the wood rotted away.


Across this first part of the trail small pieces of petrified wood were strewn around and tiny shards were everywhere. It would seem that to pick up one piece and pop it in your pocket as a souvenir would make no difference. At the head of the trail notices were posted warning against this. Alongside the official notices were copies of letters received by the park from adults and children who had returned gathered stone after visits to the park. The letter which stuck in our memory was from an adult who had been warned it was bad luck to collect stones, he did not heed the warning but was returning his souvenir rocks having experienced many incidents since collecting them! We did not want to risk it – not one piece went into our collection.


I was fascinated by this tree and its neighbouring piece of petrified wood. The stone was emerging from the ground just at the base of the trunk which made me wonder…. was the growing tree a descendent of the petrified tree? Maybe.


So the romantic in me imagines the young tree is watching over its ancestor, taking care of it and giving it shelter.

A side trail (Trail of the Sleeping Rainbows) proved to be even more interesting and despite the more difficult walking conditions we delighted in finding piece after piece of extremely well preserved trees.


Some like this were logs – yes, this is stone, it really does look like wood doesn’t it?


Others were whole trunks cut as though they had been felled and sawn into chunks.

I had thought we had pictures of some of the bigger tree lengths – but apparently not – I think we were so excited finding all the specimens we just forgot to take a picture.

The colours within the stones were amazing.P1220044                                                                                                                                                                                            


This piece is not so colourful but interesting as the growth rings of the tree show up so well

As I said the side trail was more challenging. We had to pick our way over some very rough spots and eventually we came to an overlook into a deep gorge, again we have no pictures of this …. just memories.

In all the trail length was 1.75 miles however we took around 2 hours to complete this, partly due to terrain but mostly due to the fact we kept stopping to take pictures of rocks!

We have visited places with petrified wood previously but not found anything as extensive or colourful as we did here in Utah. It also made a change from the red rocks and hoodoos we had been submerged in of late.

It has to be said this part of Utah is a little remote. Within a 100 mile radius there are some small towns with a population as small as 75 to, in the case of Escalante, around 750. Some have small general stores but these were winding down to close at the end of the month and we found their stocks extremely limited.. Escalante, therefore was the BIG town.. it had a good store…. our stocks were getting low so on Saturday morning we left the state park and drove back the few miles to the town. Lucky for us it was also farmers market day. Three stalls stood on the corner of the main road and a side road – we patronised the local producers selling really good fresh greens, squash and carrots. I also had the pleasure of being able to make the acquaintance of a small group of pet Llama, and spent some time chatting to their owner about them and my favourite the Alpaca.

We were following highway 12 at this time, a scenic route it took us high again into the mountains, where we pulled over to enjoy yet another extensive view.


From here our route took us on toward Bryce Canyon National Park which we had visited 2 years ago, enjoyed and were eagerly looking forward to a return visit.


One Response to “Petrified Rocks State Park”

  1. Sue November 5, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I love Utah, especially the Route 12 corridor. We didn’t have time to stop at Petrified Forest so it’s still on our bucket list.

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