Petrified Forest National Park is a US National Park in the state of Arizona, 126 miles east of Flagstaff. It was established in 1906, enlarged in 1932, and again in 2004. The park's primary purpose is the protection of the petrified wood deposits found in the area. In addition to that, the park is known for its rich deposits of fossils, animal life, and cross-section of the local environment. Petrified Forest National Park also showcases buildings and other structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corp of the 1930s and includes a section of historic US Route 66.
Within the park's boundaries is one of North America's richest deposits of petrified wood, found both buried and exposed on the surface. Petrified wood is fossilized wood in which the original woody cells have been replaced with quartz while retaining the original physical look of each piece. Impurities such as iron in the quartz produce a variety of colors which have sometimes led to the petrified wood being called painted wood. Pieces of petrified wood may be as small as chips or as large as whole logs.
The current park is just over 93,500 acres (about 375 square km.) It includes a variety of terrain from hills covered with dry prairie grasslands to steeply eroded badlands. The driest parts of the park are examples of high desert.
Petrified Forest National Park is home to a wide range of wildlife, including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Larger mammals resident in the park include mule deer and pronghorn. The swift fox and bobcat, as well as coyote, are among the park's predatory animals. Badgers, raccoons and skunks are common, along with rabbits and at least nine species of mice.
The most common birds in the park are raptors, also called birds of prey. These include the turkey vulture, northern harrier and red-tailed hawk as well as the greater roadrunner. All the birds of prey hunt the park's smaller mammals and reptiles, including the 15 or more varieties of snakes and lizards. Several species of toads are found in the park, spending the dry parts of each year hibernating underground.
Vegetation in Petrified Forest National Park is typical of high desert and dry grassland areas. Indian rice grass and blue gramma are some of the most common grasses found there, while larger plants include snakeweed, New Mexican saltbrush and narrow-leaved yucca. Humans have lived in and around the park for thousands of years and the park includes hundreds of archeological sites dating from various periods of human habitation.