Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Utah - Pictures
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anasazi and Fremont Indians used to live in this area and the petrified wood was utilized by them for the making of tools.
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.
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.
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."
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
Such beauty in and around Escalante, Utah!
Have you ever been to the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park?
Wonder why people like hiking near Escalante? Watch this!
© 2009 Peggy Woods