In the Land of Color: An Exploration of Petrified Forest’s Wilderness Loop Through the Black Forest
October 25 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm MST
Instructor: Christa Sadler
Petrified Forest National Park is known as one of the best records of Late Triassic paleontology and geology in the world; important new finds are being made regularly here. But the thing that always amazes people more than any other feature at the park is the incredible petrified wood that literally lies scattered across the landscape.
The wood and the colored rocks tell an amazing story of ancient rivers flowing across a supercontinent that stretched end to end on the globe. Petrified Forest is also one of the most beautiful and fantastical landscapes anywhere!
Join us on this half-day adventure into the park’s wilderness area, as we explore the area’s geology, paleontology, history, flora and fauna—and whatever other surprises we discover!
We will begin with a short introduction at the Painted Desert Visitor Center to learn about the park’s unique natural and cultural history. We will then carpool to the Painted Desert Inn to begin our hike.
The Wilderness Loop is a seven- to eight-mile off-trail route that crosses Lithodendron Wash and takes us up into the unique Black Forest, a deposit of unusual petrified wood that is, as its name suggests, black in color. This “forest” also preserves several species of wood not found elsewhere in the park.
The Black Forest is an exceptional area to explore the famous trees that give this park its name and the processes that preserved them for us to see. During this meandering loop, we will pass by several unusual features and different “forests” within the Black Forest, including Angel’s Garden, the Chalcedony Forest, and Lithodendron Forest.
Along the way, we’ll also see historical and prehistoric sites, and perhaps even find some fossils of the creatures who lived here 210 million years ago. This is a little-known and little-traveled part of the national park, and there is always something extraordinary to be found out in the wilderness!
- Meeting time: 8:00 AM
- Class will be over by 5:00 PM
- $185 – Non-Member
- $150 – Member *Learn more at PFMA site
- Trail length: 7 to 8 miles, 300-foot elevation change one way
- Difficulty: moderate; there is no constructed trail and the footing is sometimes scrambly and loose
- Please wear sturdy shoes and sun and rain protection. Bring a lunch and at least two liters of water in a small daypack.
- Other useful items: binoculars and camera, walking stick(s), and gloves to help with scrambling.
Maximum number of participants: 10
Minimum age of participants: 15 (must be accompanied by parent or guardian)