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Many people are fascinated by the fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation, and rightfully so. Petrified wood is a beautiful plant fossil that can take on many colors, and gives a certain sense of awe. Do you know where to find petrified wood near you? And what locations in the United States are the best?
In the US, petrified wood is found in forests near lakes that experienced storms, volcanic events, or other phenomena which fell them. When trees were deprived of oxygen, being buried by layers of mud, ash, or other materials, minerals invaded their cavities, resulting in their preservation. The Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona is a good example.
The invading minerals are usually silica, calcite, or chalcedony. Let’s see exactly where you can find petrified near you in the United States, and what are the best regions to collect petrified wood.
If you are interested in checking out the best books about rock and minerals identification you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Where Can I Find Petrified Wood Near Me?
If you live in Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, North or South Dakota, or Utah, you are lucky, as these are among the most popular places where petrified wood is found. Even if you aren’t located in any of these states, there are still big chances to find petrified wood nonetheless.
Petrified wood occurs only in ash or sediment buried trees that were deprived of oxygen, but later a water source found its way to them carrying with it certain minerals that remained in the plant’s cells. As the organic material was replaced by minerals due to decay, the tree was replaced by stone in time.
The beautiful part about petrified wood is that all of them are unique, varying in shapes, sizes, and colors. You can usually find petrified wood in creeks, streams, national parks, beaches, lakes, rivers, fields, quarries, and other designated public collection sites that often require permits to access them.
Usually, it takes between 5,000 to 10,000 years for wood to petrify. This is why, petrified wood is valuable on the market as well, if the specimen is of higher quality. Here is where you can find petrified wood near you:
Beaches, Lakes, Rivers, Creeks, and Streams
Some of the best places to find petrified wood is near or in water. Beaches, lakes, rivers, creeks, and streams all are favorable locations to find fossilized wood. If you are located near them, and if you know the area has been active in volcanism, you should definitely go on an adventure.
Petrified wood is often found in gravel bars or any place where gravel tends to accumulate. If the streams or creeks enter the ocean, there are higher chances of finding petrified wood.
Searching on the beach or near lakes is also a great idea. Always try to spot the gravel formations or places where rocks are numerous. Search them, and you may find petrified wood.
The best part about beaches, lakes, creeks, and rivers, is that you have high chances of finding other fossils, rocks, minerals, or gemstones.
In the U.S., there are several entire petrified wood forests that are worth visiting. Some of them are integrated into national parks, and many such locations often have the best potential to find petrified wood.
The Petrified Wood National Park in Arizona is one such example. Not all national parks allow collecting though, but the majority will let visitors take small samples. It’s a great experience if you take your children with you as well.
Fields and Quarries
Petrified wood is also commonly found in plain fields or quarries. Such ancient specimens were buried in time underground, but when quarries were created, petrified wood was unearthed in a lot of them.
If there are abandoned quarries or active ones that let visitors take a look, you might find petrified wood there with ease.
In the U.S. there are several designated areas where rockhounds can enjoy their hobby. Some places require you to pay a small fee to enter and limit the number of specimens that you can carry.
Other areas are entirely free and specially designated for rockhounds. In such locations, you have the best chance of finding petrified wood, among many other things.
TIP: Unless you are a scientist, it is unlikely that you know the actual difference between fossilization and petrification. Find out the main differences in the article below:
The Difference Between Fossilization and Petrification
Is Petrified Wood Difficult to Identify?
One of the most beautiful things about petrified wood is that it is easy to identify. You just need to see one or two specimens before you get the hang of it. The most important part is to look for smoothness in the texture of wood-colored specimens.
Petrified wood, apart from being smooth, has curvy sections that often have brownish bark color. If the specimen you have discovered is transparent and has the other features, it’s most likely petrified wood. Use light to test this.
Grainy, circular, or bark-like patterns are also an indicator of petrified wood if the original cell structure can’t be recognized. A microscope or magnifying lens is also a good method of checking it out.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Where to Find Petrified Wood in the US? The Best Locations
Petrified wood can be found in the US wherever you might be, but some locations are even more abundant than one might think. This is why it is important to know which are the best locations.
The best locations in the U.S. to find petrified wood include North and South Dakota, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Mississippi, Oregon, Washington, California, and Texas. These states are the best since they have several petrified wood forests or other locations where petrified wood can easily be found.
Let’s take a look at some of these states and see exactly where you should go to find petrified wood!
North and South Dakota Petrified Wood Locations
North and South Dakota are super states when it comes to finding petrified wood. If you are in North Dakota, you probably know that the most famous petrified forest here is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Here, two successive forests eroded out of the Sentinel Butte Formation, and they are filled with fossilized wood, especially Sequoia. Some specimens of petrified wood here can reach even 12 feet in diameter. It is among the top three most abundant locations of petrified wood in the U.S.
If you are located in South Dakota, you are just as lucky. You won’t find large concentrations of petrified wood as you would in North Dakota, but there are still some petrified wood forests here to consider and a special treat.
In South Dakota, you can experience the wonders of the Petrified Wood Park Museum. Here, there are various structures built out of petrified wood. Is the largest petrified wood park in the world.
Finding Petrified Wood in Colorado
The petrified wood specimens in Colorado are amazing as they are often traced back to giant trees. The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a one mile long petrified wood forest worth exploring for any enthusiast. But it isn’t just this location that you should try out, as Colorado has various areas abundant in petrified wood.
You can go to Arapahoe County, Douglas County, Elbert County, Fremont County, Mesa County, Jefferson County, Rio Blanco County, Weld County, and dozens of other counties which are rich in petrified wood.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Colorado, check out this article.
Petrified Wood Locations in Wyoming
Wyoming needs no introduction as it is among the best locations in the U.S. for various items, not just petrified wood.
Here, one beautiful type of petrified wood can be found in Sweetwater County, named the Eden Valley Petrified Wood. This type of petrified wood can be found in Blue Forest, Eden Valley.
It is located about 30 miles west of Farson, and the appearance of the petrified wood in this region is attributed to the blue agates that infiltrated the wood. Petrified palm wood oil can also be found here, at the Big Sandy Reservoir.
Just east of South Pass, you can also find petrified wood at the Oregon Buttes. The Eden Valley Petrified Wood exhibits features that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. It formed from plants living about 50 million years ago.
There are various other petrified wood forests in Wyoming, but this one takes the cake due to its unique specimens.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Wyoming, check out this article.
The Best Petrified Wood Areas in Arizona
Arizona is one of the best places in the world to finding not just petrified wood but a lot of beautiful and unique rocks and minerals. You can find petrified wood almost everywhere in nature.
The best location in Arizona is famous the Petrified Forest National Park but unfortunately, you can’t collect petrified wood here. Removing any natural object from the park, including fossils and rocks, is prohibited. Anyway, even visiting the Petrified Forest National Park without collecting petrified wood is worth it.
So if you want to collect petrified wood in Arizona, other great locations are North of Alamo Lake and the McCracken Mountains. You can take petrified wood for free from these locations.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Arizona, check out this article.
The Best Petrified Wood Areas of Utah
Utah is another favorable state where petrified wood is abundant. The Wolverine Petrified Wood Natural Area is probably the most well-known petrified wood forest there. The region spans over 3,800 acres, and many exposed petrified wood specimens are found all over.
Northeastern Utah is abundant in petrified wood, especially in Uintah County, Sweet Water Canyon, Emery County, Castle Dale, San Rafael Swell, Grand County, Thompson Springs, Garfield County, Iron County, and Wayne County. In Wayne County, Utah, you can find petrified wood in several locations in Hanksville.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Utah, check out this article.
Petrified Wood Locations in Oregon
Oregon has various locations where petrified wood can be found. In most stream beds from Eugene to Portland, on the west side of cascades, you can almost 100% find petrified wood. The Willamette River is also a famous location where petrified wood can be found in the water.
East of Mill City, or the western parts of Sweethome, Lebanon, Scio, Gates, Lacomb, or Eugene, are also filled with petrified wood, especially at the foothills. Crab Tree Creek, Bear Creek, and Fischer Canyon are also excellent locations worth exploring.
These locations are free to go and explore, however, there is one paid location that is worth it to find petrified wood in Oregon, namely the Holleywood Ranch, in Holley. This is where some of the highest fossilized wood in the U.S. can be found.
Over 65 species of trees were identified through these fossilized remains, and even high-quality samples were found. The petrified wood of the highest quality is very desired and can be sold for several thousand bucks.
If you arrive at Hollywood Ranch, the entrance fee is totally worth it. After the fee is paid, you are free to search for and gather petrified wood remains. However, you may still be required to pay per the pound gathered.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Oregon, check out this article.
Petrified Wood Areas in Texas
Texas is an amazing state from multiple points of view when it comes to rockhounding. You won’t find just petrified wood here with ease, but various other specimens as well. The best part is, that petrified wood is found thorough the state of Texas.
The College Station/Bryan area of Texas is among the most popular sites where petrified wood is found. Jewett in Leon County is also worth a trip, but Mount Pleasant in Titus County offers some larger specimens of petrified wood. Wise County is abundant in petrified wood logs, as well as the area around Jasper, or Live Oak County.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Texas, check out this article.
TIP: Cutting and polishing petrified wood by hand using only wet-dry sandpaper is likely to be too tiring and time-consuming. Find out the best options on how to cut and polish petrified wood in the article below:
How To Cut & Polish Petrified Wood: Follow These 3 Steps
FAQ About Finding Petrified Wood in the US
Still did not find the answer to your answers about finding petrified wood? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Can Petrified Wood be Found in All 50 States?
Petrified wood is extremely common in the United States, especially in Arizona. This plant fossil can be found in all 50 states and throughout the continent of America.
The best way to find petrified wood is by searching for gravel formations in the water, or by visiting petrified wood forests. The most important aspect is to research if collecting is allowed.
Where Are Most of the Petrified Wood Fossils Found in the US?
Even though you can find petrified wood throughout the U.S., some areas are more abundant than others.
Most of the highest concentrated areas of petrified wood in the U.S. are located in the western part of the country. Some states with many petrified wood forests are Wyoming, South and North Dakota, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado.
What State Has the Most Petrified Wood?
The state of Arizona has the most petrified wood specimens in the U.S. Entire petrified wood forests can be found here, and the Petrified Forest National Park is most likely the most famous petrified wood forest globally.
There are many concentrations of petrified wood in this park, which differ in shape, size, or color, like the Crystal Forest, Black Forest, or Rainbow Forest.
The beauty of petrified wood lies in its diversity of color, shape, and size. Various species of trees can be petrified, and the random types of minerals preserve the ancient tree remains to give them their unique beauty.
If you want to find petrified wood, you can do so regardless of where you are located in the U.S., as petrified wood is everywhere. Just remember to make sure that the property you are visiting isn’t private, or doesn’t require a permit or the payment of a fee beforehand.
TIP: Petrified wood may be one of the most unique minerals on the planet, but does it have any value out of niche collector circles? Find out the answer in the article below:
Crucial Factors of Petrified Wood Value: What’s the Worth?