Calistoga Natural Attractions: The Petrified Forest
Transport yourself back more than three million years in time and follow the trail of majestic petrified redwood giants displayed before you in a fascinating grove in breathtaking Calistoga. Geologists call this place one of the finest examples of a pliocene fossil forest in the world. The park itself is privately owned and has been since its first proprietor started excavating the large petrified trees in 1871.
Giant redwood trees turned to stone attract thousands of visitors each year to this park in the hills. Rich in history from the late 1800s, the Petrified Forest is a showpiece of explosive volcanic activity.
Redwood trees of up to eight feet in diameter and hundreds of feet high were blown down like toothpicks in the flow of ash from a major volcano to the north and east. Then they were deeply buried by ash and preserved by replacement of organic material by fine-grained silicon and oxygen. Modern uplift and erosion has exposed the tips of the trees, and the final excavation by man results in the forest we see today.
The park itself was established in 1910 by Ollie Bockee and her family. The Petrified Forest grounds include a great museum devoted to the origin of the fossils and geology of the area. The gift shop features crystals, petrified wood and books. An admission is charged for a 20 minute walk through the natural displays. Interpretive signs at major points help visitors understand the processes that result in the preservation of these magnificent fossils. There are also picnic areas available.
THE PETRIFIED FOREST
4100 Petrified Forest Road
Calistoga, CA 94515
Hours: 9 am to 6 pm daily, except during Winter
Winter: 9 am to 5 pm