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3 Largest Petrified Forests In The World

walking through a large forest

I’ve always found petrified wood to be incredibly fascinating. Every time I hold a piece of this ancient fossilized wood in my hands I can’t help but think about its past.

Things like, what kind of a tree was it? What did it look like? Was it part of a massive forest, or was it standing alone? Or, what part of the tree did the piece come from?

These are just some of the things I think about. But what really intrigues me about petrified wood is how there can be so many large concentrations of it.

We typically call these large concentrations of petrified wood, “petrified forests”, and they are absolutely a blast to visit.

In this post, I’m going to share with you the largest petrified forest in the world.

Where Is The Largest Petrified Forest?

That’s a good question. And as a matter of fact, there’s a number of petrified forests that contain a very large concentration of fossilized wood. I’m going to list the 3 largest petrified forests.

1. Petrified Forest National Park, Holbrook, Arizona

When some people think about petrified forests, they conjure up images in their head of stone trees still standing. Then when they go to see the forest in person, they’re ultimately disappointed. You should know that this is not standing forest.

But what you do see when you visit the Petrified Forest National Park is a beautiful desert landscape riddled with multi-colored stone logs lying on the ground.

At 221,390 acres in size, this national park is one of the largest petrified forests in the world.

Located in northeastern part of the state, the park features numerous unique concentrations of petrified wood which have been dubbed names like the Black Forest, the Crystal Forest, the Rainbow Forest and so on.

There is ample back country hikes for those who want to escape potential crowds. And there are many different exhibits that are great for young and old alike that will bring stories to life.

For more information, visit the Petrified Forest National Park Website.

2. Petrified Forest, Calistoga, California

credit: petrifiedforest.org

The Petrified Forest, in Calistoga, California is home to one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world. Around 3.4 million years ago, a nearby volcano, today known as Mt. St. Helena erupted. The powerful blast from the volcano knocked down an entire forest of prehistoric Redwood trees.

Thick layers of volcanic ash rapidly buried the trees, creating an environment that was completely void of oxygen, creating the ideal situation for fossilization to occur.

For thousands of years, water with high mineral content made its way through the ashy deposits, saturating the pores of the organic tissues of the Redwoods with silica and filling the cellular spaces.

Once the water evaporated, what was left were the minerals that were deposited, leaving a perfectly preserved petrified tree.

The Petrified Forest in California is privately owned, but allows visitors to see the petrified trees for a fee. There are numerous trails you can walk and they even offer informative tours.

At 845 acres is size, it’s not the largest petrified forest, but it does have one of the highest concentration of the most unique petrified trees in the world.

For more information, you can visit their website here.

3. The Petrified Forest of Lesvos, Greece

lesbos greece petrified forest

On the Greek island of Lesbos (or Lesvos) you can find another large petrified forest. The Lesvos Petrified Forest is perhaps the largest accumulation of petrified wood in all of Europe.

15 to 20 million years ago the trees in this petrified forest were preserved and fossilized by a series of volcanic eruptions that quickly buried entire forests with ash.

Today, the natural erosion of volcanic rocks reveals impressive standing and lying tree trunks that reach up to twenty meters in length, while the diameter of the fossilized trunks is close to three meters. So it’s no surprise that this location contains the largest plant fossils ever found anywhere in the world

In 1995, the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest was founded to showcase and study this unique record of the past, as well as protect it from damaging exploitation.

For more information, visit the Lesbos Petrified Forest Website.

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