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Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Utah - Pictures

Updated on August 1, 2017
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, while we were on vacation, that were conveniently situated near the road on which we were traveling. This post will show some pictures taken at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.

We were traveling through some interesting looking scenery after leaving the extra-ordinary setting that comprises Bryce Canyon National Park.

At one point grey toned petrified sand dunes were adjacent to the road. If one would knock on them (as my niece did) they actually sounded as though they were hollow inside.

We had never even heard of petrified sand dunes prior to 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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Road going through petrified sand dunes on our way to see Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
Road going through petrified sand dunes on our way to see Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. | Source
My niece knocking on a petrified sand dune.  Sounds hollow!
My niece knocking on a petrified sand dune. Sounds hollow! | Source

Utah Travel

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 every so often and leave a trail of what used to be human habitation in those areas at some point in the past.

If only those old buildings or remnants of buildings could talk! Many stories would obviously be able to be related to willing listeners.

An old abandoned homestead
An old abandoned homestead | Source

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.

An overlook area looking down on the many sand dunes
An overlook area looking down on the many sand dunes | Source

Highway 12 - Scenic Byway

Highway 12 is the 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.

All of it is paved and it runs for 122 miles between the two national parks mentioned and takes about 4 hours to go from one national park to the next if one does not stop to sightsee along the way. Open year round it accommodates visitors for every season.

The town of Escalante although small (around 850 residents) 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.

Located in south central Utah off of scenic highway 12, it 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 wonderful 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 serving as a nice yard sculpture!
An old gasoline pump serving as a nice yard sculpture! | Source

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.

Elevation is at 5,800 feet.

Some petrified wood at the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Some petrified wood at the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park | Source

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

This beautiful park 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 can be enjoyed.

Fishermen can expect to catch rainbow trout and bluegill fish.

White Hollow Reservoir in Escalante State Park is made up of 130 acres. The total area of the park is made up of 1,400 acres.

The petrified wood and dinosaur bones that have been covered for centuries are gradually being worked to the surface. One can expect to see about 5 1/2 million tons of petrified wood that has been exposed due to the erosion that has taken place within the park over time.

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

Nature Trail

There is a moderately strenuous hike within the park that is about one mile (1.6 kilometers) in length. What makes it a bit strenuous is that one is climbing much of the way up to the top of the ridge and of course back down while at an elevation of approximately 6,000 feet.

This may seem like nothing to those who are acclimated to higher elevations and hiking but for us lowlanders who are used to living near sea level it does take some effort.

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

Some hikers from Germany on the trail with me in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Some hikers from Germany on the trail with me in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park | Source

Truthfully, the prettiest specimens of the petrified wood 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 half way up the trail where broken chunks of logs started appearing scattered here and there.

Old conifer trees cling to life at these altitudes and while not grown large or tall, supposedly they were in many cases quite antiquated.

Old trees cling to life up on the ridge in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Old trees cling to life up on the ridge in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park | Source

Anasazi and Fremont Indians used to live in this area and the petrified wood was utilized by them for the making of tools.

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

Near the top of the ridge one gets a good look at the surrounding landscape with the water below as shown by the picture at the top of this post and another photo showing a balancing rock with the water far below.

Balancing Rock in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Balancing Rock in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park | Source

Lichens

The brochure for the nature trail had numbered spots along the way and explanations of what the hikers would be viewing at each point.

#5 explained Lichens.

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

This is what was written about lichens:

"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 an algae. One uses the other's by-products. The fungus protects the algae while the algae produces food for the fungus. They even reproduce together.

These tiny lichen 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."

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

While the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona has much more in the way of brilliantly colored petrified wood laying out in the open desert on display, this Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Utah has other attributes which makes it enjoyable.

The topography 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.

Location of Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

A markerEscalante, Utah -
Escalante, UT, USA
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Such beauty in and around Escalante, Utah!

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

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Wonder why people like hiking near Escalante? Watch this!

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image
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      Peggy Woods 5 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 5 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 image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 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 5 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 image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Kelly,

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

    • profile image

      Kelly 6 years ago

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

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 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 7 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 image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 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 7 years ago from Home

      Great.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 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

      LRobbins 7 years ago from Germany

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

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 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 image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 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 image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 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 image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 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 7 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 7 years ago

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

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 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 7 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 image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 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 7 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!