Escalante Petrtified Forest State Park

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park protects one of the largest troves of high-quality petrified wood in the world. The jeweled fragments that are seen today were formed when massive flooding and mudflows swept away through ancient conifer and redwood forest and buried the uprooted trees. Deprived of oxygen beneath feet of sediment, the wood did not decompose but was gradually displaced by minerals leeching though the mud above. These various kinds of minerals crystalized in place of the wood, creating a cast of the fallen trees. Now exposed due to water and wind that have eroded the layers of rock above, the millions of fragments lay scattered across the plateau here and are densely collected in the washes, where storm runoff continues to do it’s work on the land.

We actually visited the park twice, though it was only the second time that I hiked the more impressive Sleeping Rainbow Trail, a loop that extends down the backside of the plateau from the Petrified Forest Loop Trail. Both times I was blown away. I had seen petrified wood before, but never could I imagine seeing chunks of purple, red, yellow, pink, and more embedded in a single piece – some of which were larger than I am. There are fragments of petrified wood scattered everywhere atop the mesa but there is also no shortage of large tree trunks laying about, making it easy to envision the grandeur of the dense ancient forest.

Overlooking Wide Hollow Reservoir from the Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Overlooking Wide Hollow Reservoir from the Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Me, Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Me, Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Me taking photos, Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Me taking photos, Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Tom descending back down Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Tom descending back down Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Sleeping Rainbow Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Wide Hollow Reservoir, Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Wide Hollow Reservoir, Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Wide Hollow Reservoir, Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah

Wide Hollow Reservoir, Petrified Forest Trail, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Utah