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Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Utah with Surrounding Views

Updated on July 8, 2020
Peggy W profile image

Utah is a fantastic state filled with natural wonders including many beautiful state and national parks. We loved vacationing there!

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park | Source

Utah Vacation

Between the national parks of Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, my mother, niece, and I discovered a couple of unique state parks in Utah. This post will show some pictures taken at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.

We traveled through some fascinating looking scenery after leaving the extra-ordinary setting that comprises Bryce Canyon.

At one point, grey-toned petrified dunes were adjacent to the road. If one would knock on them (as my niece did), they sounded as though they were hollow inside. We had never even heard of petrified dunes before seeing and learning about these. They were hardened just like rocks and obviously would no longer be able to be shifted about with changing winds. Thus the road was paved and directed right through these dunes without danger of them impeding vehicle passage. Interesting!

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Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is the road going through petrified sand dunes on our way to see Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.My niece is knocking on a petrified sand dune.  It sounds hollow!
This is the road going through petrified sand dunes on our way to see Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
This is the road going through petrified sand dunes on our way to see Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. | Source
My niece is knocking on a petrified sand dune.  It sounds hollow!
My niece is knocking on a petrified sand dune. It sounds hollow! | Source

Traveling Through Southern Utah

There seem to be many abandoned old homesteads that are seemingly left to deteriorate along this stretch of highway in southern Utah. They dot the landscape leaving a trail of what used to be human habitation at some point in the past.

If only those old buildings or remnants of buildings could talk! Many stories would be able to be related to willing listeners. I will enclose a few pictures of traveling through this southern Utah country so that the reader can look (through the lens of my camera) at what we were viewing as we passed these sites.

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An old abandoned homesteadAn overlook area where one looks down on the many sand dunes
An old abandoned homestead
An old abandoned homestead | Source
An overlook area where one looks down on the many sand dunes
An overlook area where one looks down on the many sand dunes | Source

Highway 12 Scenic Byway

Highway 12 is the paved road that we were traveling between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks. It is one of the most beautiful scenic byway roads in that part of the country. It runs for 122 miles between the two national parks mentioned and takes about four hours to go from one national park to the next if one does not stop to sightsee. Open year-round, it accommodates visitors for every season.

Although small (around 850 residents), the town of Escalante is the largest town for about 70 miles in any direction. It offers some cafes, motels, fuel, and a place to replenish camping supplies and groceries.

The location of Escalante is in south-central Utah off of scenic Highway 12. The town is about 50 miles east of Bryce Canyon National Park and about 75 miles south of Capitol Reef National Park. It is a place of magnificent scenery and a jumping-off point for tours to various destinations, each of them offering outdoor adventures for those inclined to take advantage of them.

An old gasoline pump serves as a nice yard sculpture!
An old gasoline pump serves as a nice yard sculpture! | Source

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Only 2 miles west of the town of Escalante is the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Since we were so close to this and had some extra time, my mother, niece, and I decided to check it out.

This state park is open year-round and offers campgrounds, picnic areas, swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities. The elevation is at 5,800 feet. It is situated in a scenic part of the State of Utah and would be especially inviting for outdoor enthusiasts.

The area has many lakes, 47 of them to be exact, including reservoirs and streams in which aquatic activities are available. Fishers can expect to catch rainbow trout and bluegill fish.

White Hollow Reservoir in Escalante State Park has 130 acres. The total area of the park consists of 1,400 acres.

Centuries-old petrified wood and dinosaur bones are gradually coming to the surface. One can expect to see about 5 1/2 million tons of petrified wood within view due to the erosion taking place within the park over time.

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Beautiful colors in the petrified wood located in Escalante Petrified Forest State ParkPetrified wood in the state park
Beautiful colors in the petrified wood located in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Beautiful colors in the petrified wood located in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park | Source
Petrified wood in the state park
Petrified wood in the state park | Source

Nature Trail

There is a moderately strenuous hike within the park that is about one mile (1.6 kilometers) in length. One has to climb up to the top of the ridge while at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. Then, of course, the climb back down takes place. This trail may seem like nothing to those acclimated to higher altitudes and hiking, but for lowlanders who live near sea level, it does make for some effort.

My mother and niece stayed at the bottom while I joined some people visiting from Germany on that hiking trail. At the top, there is another 3/4 mile Rainbow Loop Trail.

Truthfully, the petrified wood's prettiest specimens are at the bottom where everyone going to the park can easily see them. But for those of us who like to exercise and see more of the terrain, the specimens of petrified wood started showing up about halfway up the trail where broken chunks of logs started appearing scattered here and there.

Old conifer trees cling to life at these altitudes and do not achieve much height.
Anasazi and Fremont Native Americans used to live in this area, and they utilized the petrified wood for the making of tools.

Near the top of the ridge, one gets a good look at the surrounding landscape. Water lies below, as portrayed in the first photo of this post. Another photo shows a balancing rock with the water far below.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Some hikers from Germany on the trail with meOld trees cling to life up on the ridge in the park.Park viewBalancing Rock in Escalante Petrified Forest State ParkHiking the trail in the park with a view of Wide Hollow Reservoir belowMy mother waiting at the bottom of the trail sitting on a piece of petrified wood
Some hikers from Germany on the trail with me
Some hikers from Germany on the trail with me | Source
Old trees cling to life up on the ridge in the park.
Old trees cling to life up on the ridge in the park. | Source
Park view
Park view | Source
Balancing Rock in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Balancing Rock in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park | Source
Hiking the trail in the park with a view of Wide Hollow Reservoir below
Hiking the trail in the park with a view of Wide Hollow Reservoir below | Source
My mother waiting at the bottom of the trail sitting on a piece of petrified wood
My mother waiting at the bottom of the trail sitting on a piece of petrified wood | Source

Lichens

The nature trail brochure had numbered spots along the way and explanations of what the hikers would be viewing at each point. Number five explained lichens, and this is what was available to read:

"The brilliantly colored plant on the rock face is actually two plants growing as one. This is an example of a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and algae. One uses the other's by-products. The fungus protects the algae while the algae produce food for the fungus. They even reproduce together.

These tiny lichens may have been the first living organisms to exist on dry land. There are at least 16,000 different species. Some of the individual plant colonies could be thousands of years old."

Lichens growing on the rocks
Lichens growing on the rocks | Source

Recommendation

The topography of Escalante Petrified Forest State Park with lakes, trees, trails, and scenic wonders, including other nearby state and national parks, makes it a worthwhile destination. Hopefully, the pictures in this post did it some justice.

The 130-acre Wide Hollow Reservoir near the campground within the park offers fishers a chance to catch largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and bluegill.

To check on amenities within the park including camping, rentals for kayaks, paddleboards, fishing gear, and more, click on the source link below.

Have you ever been to the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Ivona,

      Nice that you got to see Bryce Canyon from a bird's eye view as we also did from a helicopter. We spent several weeks exploring various areas including all 5 national parks in Utah...so had time for seeing other things like this Escalante Petrified Forest which was on our way between the various locations. Actually...one could spend a week or more in each of the national parks. Utah is amazing! Thanks for your visit and comment.

    • Ivona Poyntz profile image

      Ivona Poyntz 

      8 years ago from UK

      I've been to Bryce canyon, which I loved (took the helicopter ride as well), but I didn't know about escalente: shame, I would have loved to see it. Great photos.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello natures47friend,

      The petrified sand dunes were the first that we had seen also. Thanks for your comment on the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Utah. Utah is an absolute wonderland of wonderful sites!

    • natures47friend profile image

      natures47friend 

      8 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

      Cool....petrified sand dunes...have never seen that till now on your hub. Thanks.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Kelly,

      You certainly live in a beautiful part of the country. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Kelly 

      9 years ago

      Its actually called hells back bone and how i know that is my family grew up there....

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Dolores,

      Hope you get to Utah someday and get to visit many of the National Parks as well as State Parks like Escalante Petrified Forest. So much beauty there! Thanks for the comment.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      10 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I've always wanted to go to Utah, so many beautiful places. Thanks for suggesting Escalante - the pictures were great.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi sukhera143,

      Happy that you liked this hub about the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Utah. Thanks for the comment.

    • sukhera143 profile image

      sukhera143 

      10 years ago from Home

      Great.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi LRobbins,

      Nice to hear from someone who has also been to the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Lends credence to what we say about the park for others who have not yet visited. Glad you liked the pictures. Thanks for commenting.

    • LRobbins profile image

      Laurel 

      10 years ago from Germany

      Great photos Peggy W! I visited this park a few years ago and loved it.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Laurel,

      If you like rocks as you say........you will LOVE Utah! We were so amazed at the 5 National Parks...how different each one was...even though rocks predominate in the scenery of each one. And the State Parks are also worth while visiting. I'd go back in a heartbeat. Glad you liked these pictures of Escalante Petrified Forest. Thanks for the comment.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello loveroflife,

      We also had never heard about Petrified Sand Dunes. Amazing what one can learn when traveling. With the pictures...now you know too! Thanks for stopping by to read and take a look.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Hello, hello,

      Yes, I do feel very fortunate to have been able to spend that amount of time in Utah discovering great places like this Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. If you took a look at the videos...wow! So much else to see in that area! Would love to go back and explore some more. Thanks for the comment and happy that you liked this.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi CMHypno,

      You are in for a real treat when you get the chance to go west! Arizona, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, etc, etc.....! We spent only 2 weeks in Utah but did get to see a number of things of which this Escalante Petrified Forest State Park was just one. Now...I need to spend more time out east! Thanks for commenting.

    • Laurel Oakes profile image

      Laurel Oakes 

      10 years ago

      Wonderful Hub I am sooooo ready to head for Utah. I love rocks and this looks to be something I would enjoy.

    • profile image

      loveroflife 

      10 years ago

      Very enlightening hub. I did not know about petrified sand dunes.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      You are so lucky to see all these beautiful places. Thank you for a very, very great hub.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 

      10 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Fascinating Hub and beautiful pictures. I have only been to the east coast of the US so far - there is so much more left to see!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi dohn121,

      Reserve as much time as possible for Utah when you visit. 70 to 80% of the land (if I remember correctly) is dedicated to reserved lands...state and national parks and the like...for all of us to enjoy. We took 2 weeks exploring it and couldn't begin to see it all. We did see all 5 national parks and some state parks...but it was merely an introduction to the beauty and fun that can be had there. This Escalante Petrified Forest State Park was merely a side diversion...but worth the stop.

      Since you like natural beauty in nature I feel certain that you would fall in love with Utah as we did.

      Thanks for the first comment.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 

      10 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      The only places I've been out West thus far in the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. However, I will make it a point to go and see Utah one day! Thanks again, Peggy! What wonderful pictures and descriptions!

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