Turned to Stone

I’m not sure when or how I first learned of Petrified Forest National Park.

I’ve a vague memory of a video short on TV perhaps from the Wonderful World of Disney, a Sunday evening staple at my house when I was a kid growing up. But can find no evidence of that short existing.

In any case I remember thinking – That, that is cool! Trees that are rocks!! Rocks that are trees!! How? Where?

Of course, now I’ve learned that petrified trees are found all over the world from the high Arctic in Canada to yes the Petrified National Forest Park in Arizona. I was much older, much more mature when I saw my first petrified log this spring…. just kidding! I mean these things are freaking cool. You can see the bark, the rings, boreholes from insects… I mean awesome! Right?!

But what really caught my eye were the colours of the quartz. Stunning.

Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the fee area of the park covers about 230 square miles (600 square kilometers), encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands. The site, the northern part of which extends into the Painted Desert, was declared a national monument in 1906 and a national park in 1962. The park received 627,757 recreational visitors in 2017.


But it’s not the colour of the trees (rocks) it’s the colour of the desert surrounding them as well. they call it the Painted Desert for a reason.

The park is set up perfectly for drive-through tourist, as many American National Parks, you basically drive in one end and out the other with many of the sites and hikes literally just steps off the main route.

Petroglyphs in the Park

One thing I did not realize the park had until I arrived was petroglyphs including a monster named Newspaper Rock.

The archeological site known as Newspaper Rock is neither a newspaper nor a single rock. The site boasts over 650 petroglyphs covering a group of rockfaces within a small area. High concentrations of petroglyphs like this mark a place as hugely significant. Many generations of people saw these markings and contributed their own. The petroglyphs were created by ancestral Puebloan people living, farming, and hunting along the Puerco River between 650 and 2,000 years ago. Some of the ancient artists may have lived at Puerco Pueblo, located less than one mile north of this site.

National Park Service
Newspaper Rock – March 28th, 2018

Thanks to a bit of research before arriving I’d found reference to some petroglyphs off the beaten track or main trails near Puerco Pueblo. I had a rough idea of a rough map in my head from the passages I had read but wasn’t really expecting much. After hiking in the general direction I though I should be going for about 30 minutes I was beginning to think that was exactly what I was going to find. When suddenly there they were… Ancient Aliens!

Well that’s one theory… in any case it was cool to capture a few images that might not be captured by the hordes a kilometer or two away.