petrified forest painted desertThe Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert, with its oddly shaped rock formations of rainbow-colored petrified wood, fossils and petroglyphs left by American Indian tribes, may become the site of many new discoveries in the next few years.   The National Park Service just secured more than 26,000 acres that have remained largely untouched and are very likely to unearth note-worthy scientific treasures.  Park archaeologist Bill Reitze said surveys of the new property also have shown promise for archaeological sites like early basket-maker villages and petroglyph sites.  The land purchased is a mix of grasslands that would be ideal for archaeological and wildlife finds, and badlands with fossils from the Triassic period that date back 220 million years.


The Conservation Fund began negotiations to acquire the private ranchland in 1999, and with the acquisition of the Paulsell Ranch for $8 million, the Park Service has now acquired about a third of the 120,000 acres it wants.  The value of the land in terms of research, scientists say, is impossible to measure.  It was at the park where scientists in 1985 found the fossilized bones of a small ancestor to the Tyrannosaurus rex.  In 2004 the revueltosaurus (a relative of the crocodile) was discovered there.  It will be fascinating to see what discoveries are unearthed over the next few years, and how they will enrich our understanding of the early peoples of the area.


With more than 600,000 visitors a year, Petrified Forest was set aside for protection as a national monument in 1906 by President Roosevelt.  It became a national park in 1962 and until now, included 109,000 acres.  If you have an extra day, a visit to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert would be a worthy addition to our Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Sedona trip.  Contact one of our trip consultants at (800) 247-0970 to begin planning your vacation.