The Crystal Forest trail is a relatively easily trail through some of the most spectacular deposits of petrified wood found in Petrified Forest National Park. The name Crystal Forest comes from the abundant crystals that were preserved in Petrified Wood here. If you look carefully you can still find an abundance of crystals in the petrified wood here.
Do not collect any petrified wood, or any other mineral, plant, animal or other cultural and historic objects from the park. These treasures are timeless, pricelesss, and irreplaceable. Please leave the resources in the park so that future generations can enjoy them as well.
The trail is paved and fairly short and easy. However you would be surprised how many people refuse to walk this great trail when I mention that it happens to be an astonishing three quarters of one mile long. Many visitors to Petrified Forest seem to have 3 main goals.
1. Stay in the car as long as possible.
2. Spend less than 2 hours in the park.
3. Avoid physical activity at all costs.
These visitors will see little, and miss what Petrified Forest really has to offer.
Anyway now on to the trail itself.
Turn right at the first intersection. The trail winds up and through some very cool pieces of petrified wood. Most of these pieces of wood are agatized, meaning that there is no cellular structure in the logs, these logs do not look like trees on the insed, but rather pretty rocks.
After less than 5 minutes on the left is one of my favorite logs in the park. It looks as if someone is cutting the log up into bologna slices as it becomes exposed out of the ground. Walk a bit further and you will reach about the half way point of the hike, where two very long, light brown logs lay to the left side of the trail. These logs are permineralized. For some reason when it was becoming petrified the cell wall in the tree remained intact, and so not only will these have cellular structure but these logs still look like trees on the inside, with nice rings, etc.
Further down the trail you come to trees on the right which have a layer of sedimentary rock covering the actual wood. This is layers of mud and other sediments that covered the logs during the Triassic period. Look closely and you may find crystals in this area.
There are still many crystals in the area so I invite you to look for your self and take your time to look for them rather than missing them like many visitors. After 30 minutes, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit longer depending on how much time you took you will arrive back at your starting point.
Have fun the rest of your time in the Park. Petrified Forest has become one of my favorite parks after I really got to know it well. - Aug 16 2009 rally_toad