Petrified Logs at Valley of Fire

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This page last updated on 11/13/2018
(Fig. 01)
Directions: There are two petrified log sites in the park. To get to the site on the west side of the park (refer to Fig. 01) ... from Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 north for about 35 miles to exit 75 (signs for Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area). At the end of the offramp, proceed southeast on Valley of Fire Highway. Go through the park’s west entrance after 14.5 miles and drive an additional 1.8 miles to an intersection where Scenic Loop Road (Campground Road) parts to the left. Turn right up a gravel trail, following the sign for Petrified Logs. Drive another 0.2 miles to the parking lot and trailhead at the end of the road.

Area Description: There are short trails that lead to petrified logs at each of the locations shown on the map in (Fig. 01). Though we hiked near the site on the west end of the park, we didn't take the marked trail used by the general public.  The logs are several colorful tree trunks lying close to the road, safely fenced off for all to enjoy. There are two fenced in logs along the trail on the site at the west site. The site on the east end of the park has one large petrified log that is fenced in.  Today we joined a park ranger for an hour and a half guided hike among petrified logs in a nearby area near the west end site surrounded by a large, locked, fenced in area that is not open to the general public.

Description of Petrified Wood: Petrified wood (from the Greek root Petro meaning "rock" or "stone"; literally "wood turned into stone") is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. A wide variety of names are commonly used for petrified wood. "Fossilized wood" is a general term for wood that has been petrified or preserved by other methods of fossilization. "Opalized wood" is petrified wood that has been replaced by opal, an amorphous form of silica. "Agatized wood" is wood that has been replaced by agate, a form of chalcedony or microcrystalline quartz. "Silicified wood" is wood that has been replaced by any form of silica, including opal and agate. Petrified wood is a fossil and is generally thought to be 225 million years old. It forms when plant material is buried by sediment and protected from decay due to oxygen and organisms. Then, groundwater rich in dissolved solids flows through the sediment, replacing the original plant material with silica, calcite, pyrite, or another inorganic material such as opal. The result is a fossil of the original woody material that often exhibits preserved details of the bark, wood, and cellular structures. The brilliant colors in the petrified wood come mainly from three minerals. Pure quartz is white, manganese oxides form blue, purple, black, and brown, and iron oxides provide hues from yellow through red to brown. The three pieces shown in (Fig. 01a) below, were all captured today while walking around this area.
(Fig. 01a)

11/10/2018 Trip Notes: Ron Ziance, Bob Croke and myself joined about 12-14 others (Fig. 02) for a guided tour of an area of petrified logs that is off limits to the general public. After we left the meetup area we hiked above a long wash (Fig. 03) before descending down into the wash itself. Eventually we came to a locked gated along the fence that surrounded the area. Once inside we walked around and climbed a hillside (Fig. 04) that was just loaded with thousands of pieces of varying sizes of petrified wood. There were  many places where you could observe long sections of trees (Figs. 05 & 06), though they were "broken", almost appearing like they had been sawed. Pieces of petrified wood were just everywhere (Fig.07). I spotted a rock that had what looked like a branch from a tree that was actually embedded into a rock (Fig. 08). The picture in (Fig. 09) is Ron Ziance at the end of one of the longest logs. The view in (Fig. 11) is looking back down the hill and across the valley below. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see the fence and wash in the middle of the picture. (See pictures and notes below from the log at the other site shown on the map in (Fig. 01).

(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)

(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
More Notes: The pictures below (Figs. 11 thru 14) were taken of the fenced-in petrified log at the site on the east end of the park (Fig. 01) on a visit I made back in 2011.

(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)