Back to Highpoint Index
Petrified Forest National Park Highpoint - Pilot Rock -
Summit NOT reached!!
18 July 2005 sightseeing.
Back to 2005 Californium Expedition
On the way to Flagstaff, we took a small detour through Petrified Forest National Park. We stopped briefly at a souvenir shop just outside the park, where I legally picked up a piece of petrified wood. We paid the entrance fee, and drove north along the park road, making several stops and a few short hikes. It was very hot, so short hikes were just fine. We checked out the Giant Logs, Crystal Forest, The Tepees, and several overlooks into the Painted Desert. From one of these (Chinde Point, I think), we got a decent view of Pilot Rock, the highpoint of the national park. It looks like an interesting and challenging cross-country hike, with great views of the colorful Painted Desert.
The park museum had a nice description of phytosaurs, which were crocodilian-like reptiles that thrived in the Late Triassic, 225 million years ago when these sediments were being laid down. The phytosaurs ultimately failed to compete with the true crocodilians, and died out. You can tell them apart from the crocodilians since their nostrils were near their eyes, not at the end of the snout where alligators and crocodiles have theirs.
The petrified wood has brilliant colors, many from iron, manganese and carbon, and some from cobalt and chromium.
The petrified wood was originally driftwood that washed downstream, rather than a 'forest'.
When the brittle fossilized wood is exposed, it tends to crack into slices.
The Tepees, formations where John Muir discovered phytosaur bones. Go Phytosaurs!
Pilot Rock is the highpoint of the national park. It looks like an interesting and challenging cross-country hike, with great views of the colorful Painted Desert.
http://www.cohp.org/natl_parks/Petrified_Forest_1.html - Pilot Rock trip report
http://www.cohp.org/natl_parks/Petrified_Forest_2.html - Pilot Rock trip report
The Painted Desert.