- Get Involved
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona:
Petrified Forest National Park became a National Monument in 1906 by Teddy Roosevelt and became a National Park in 1962 by Congress and John F. Kennedy. It has had a long history of Native Americans living in the area, tourist visiting it along Route 66, geologists studying its’ treasures and archeologists discovering its’ past.
The trees that formed the petrified wood date back to between 211-218 million years ago. The trees were rushed down an ancient river and became water logged and sunk to the bottom of the river. While the trees were at the bottom of the river silt and ash from volcanic eruptions covered them. Over millions of years crystallization replaced the wood in the trees turning it to quartz. The unique coloring of the petrified wood is the Iron and Manganese that mixed in to the Quartz.
The park is a great place to consider and reflect on the Leave No Trace principle of Leave What you Find. The park losses over a ton of Petrified wood each month. While law enforcement cracks down on stealing the parks petrified wood, it is not enough to stop people from taking the amazing and non-renewable attraction. By taking petrified wood from the park, we take away other people’s chances of being in awe of the amazing geological wonder. Some visitors say that there is so much, what would the harm be in taking one piece. The park has noticed the decline over time and remembers the day when the dirt glittered with bright lights in the sunshine. Today the bright twinkling lights reflecting the sun are being distinguished because people want to take a piece home to display on their shelves, rather then take a picture or treasure the memory.
If law enforcement or Leave No Trace education is not enough to help keep the petrified wood in the parks boundaries, then the land has developed another strategy. Some people believe in a curse that haunts peoples who take a piece of the petrified wood. People will return pieces of the wood after many years believing that it cursed them bad luck throughout their lives. Some people return it shortly after their visit or some after many years. The people that are haunted by the curse complain of everything from having things stolen from them, losing relationships with people, or medical problems.
Taking petrified wood from the park may not seem like a problem since there is so much of it there, but over the years it is dwindling because of the need for a treasure from the park. Some people have returned their pieces back to the park because of the embarrassment they feel over displaying the wood and having to tell people they took it from the park, while others have taken it and realized that it is better left in the desert then on their shelves.
Remember to be like Bigfoot and Leave No Trace!
Pat and TJ