The Petrified Forest National Park lies within a portion of the Painted Desert, which is a crescent shaped formation that curves down from the Grand Canyon area and then east across I-40 towards New Mexico. The badland formation is layers of bentonite clay, volcanic ash and other sedimentary layers. The banded colors are from different trace minerals, such as iron in the soil.
It is within these layers that ancient ecosystems lived and died, some of which have been left as fossilized remains, including the petrified logs, for which Petrified Forest National Park was first noted. However, the ancient logs from a long gone forest are only one piece of a much larger array of fossils captured within the layers, like pages in a book.
Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most impressive and diverse "Open Air Museums" in the world and preserves remnants of the Late Triassic Era, literally at the dawn of the dinosaurs. These early archosaurs are older than the dinosaurs and roamed this area before and as the dinosaurs began to take reign and dominate the planet for millions of years.
Fossils of a diverse ecosystem are preserved here, from trace fossils, to actual flora and fauna. The park serves as a place for scientific study, education and an unrivaled setting for Triassic research in a protected, preserved and managed location for today and future generations.
In addition to the Late Triassic Era preserved at the park, you will also experience a cultural crossroad through the boundaries of time. Ancestral Puebloan People, (formerly known as Anasazi), inhabitated the area and built pueblos, grew crops, hunted, fashioned tools, traded, lived and died here. Early Spanish and railroad survey expeditions crossed the area, followed by the ribbons of steel, stage lines, dirt roads and asphalt highways used by many generations of travelers to visit and experience Petrified Forest National Park and all it has to offer.
Come join us and explore Petrified Forest National Park today!