Posts Tagged ‘Painted Desert’

Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert

The high, dry grassland was once a vast floodplain crossed by many streams. Tall, stately conifer trees grew along the banks. Crocodile like reptiles, giant amphibians and small dinosaurs lived among a variety of ferns, cycads, and other plants and animals known only as fossils today. The trees, Araucarioxylon, Woodworthia, Schilderia, and others, fell, and swollen streams washed them into adjacent floodplains. A mix of silt, mud, and volcanic ash 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.

In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt set aside selected stands of the petrified trees as Petrified Forest National Monument. In 1932 53,200 acres of the Painted Desert were bought and added to the monument. In 1962 the monument was designated as a National Park.

It costs $10.00 (or use your handy National Park Pass) and takes about 3 hours to drive through the park.

Cathy