Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Visiting Escalante State Park

Resevoir at the State Park

It was hot when we arrived at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park (it was September). As we talked to the park staff, we learned the best way to see the petrified wood was to climb to the top of the mesa.  So, we refilled water bottles, re-applied sunscreen, got our hats, and began the climb.

Geology of the Park

On this hike, you pass through the Morrison formation.  This geologic layer is noted for the number of dinosaur fossils found in it.  The Morrison formation is exposed in several areas of Utah, making Utah a great destination for paleontologists.

Petrified Wood

Once we reached the top of the mesa, we followed the loop and numbered points on the trail guide to view different petrified wood specimens.  I have read that there are better areas to see large quantities of petrified wood in southern Utah, but if you are not up for a back country adventure, this park is a great place to view the wood.

Large chunks of petrified wood

Smaller pieces scattered around the mesa.

This was not a particularly difficult hike, despite the heat.  It was interesting to see the variety of colors in the petrified wood.  One large piece was obviously a tree trunk and the tree rings were preserved and visible.

Counting tree rings.

The water at the reservoir looked cool and inviting, but we had miles to go on this day, so we piled back into the car and headed to our next destination.  

If you go:
Take Scenic Highway 12 (east if you are traveling from Tropic).  Turn onto Reservoir Road and follow it (less than a mile) to the State Park and reservoir area.  There is a small visitor's center with a few items for sale, and restrooms.  The park employees will collect your fees and give you a trail guide. Plan a couple of hours to hike and see the petrified wood.  


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