Before leaving Arizona we made our last stop at Petrified Forest National Park. All of the national parks are so different and interesting. There is so much to learn from these wonderful lands and I am grateful that we have been able to visit so many. Petrified Forest is a very unique place. It is not the only place that petrified wood can be found; however, it is the largest concentrated area of petrified wood in the world. We were able to stay at a gift shop just outside the entrance to the park which was great because it was so close and had power for us! We needed it because it got pretty cold at night while we were there. The days were nice for hiking though so it all worked out.
There were some great hikes for us to take with the kids. Our first hike took us to Agate House. It is a replica of a house built by the native people made of petrified wood. They believe it was originally built some time between 1050-1300. We also got to see ancient petroglyphs, and the ruins from an Indian village. The rooms looked so small and it was built around a Kiva (they believe they were used as places of worship). The trail of long logs was aptly named as most of the logs on the trail were very long. The kids had fun walking along them. It has somewhat of an eerie feel being there surrounded by wood that has been turned to rock. When you look around there is very little growing but the ground is just covered in what appears to be fallen trees. It feels unnatural like they are out of place in this desolate land.
There are many off the beaten path hikes in this park. These are hikes that don’t really have a maintained trail. Typically with the kids we stick to the trails as many of the off the path ones tend to be strenuous or sometimes take many days to do. Not here though. It is not a very large park so we decided to take one of the trails since it wasn’t too long, and it was great. The kids loved not having to stay on the path. They were stopping to look at and examine what seemed to us like every piece of petrified wood in their path. They were all so beautiful though and it is amazing to see all the colors and crystallization in the different pieces. There was one spot we came upon that literally looked as though someone had just been there chopping wood, but when you touch it, it’s all rock. Some of the “stumps” are so big around, it took all three kids to get their arms all the way around one. We had a great time here and learned some new things too. It is awesome visiting national parks.