With little light pollution obscuring the skies over Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, it can be a perfect spot for studying the stars overhead. On October 19 you can do just that with a park ranger and other astronomers and photographers.
Petrified Forest National Park
Some 30 years ago, paleontologist Bryan Small discovered remains of a dinosaur new to science at Petrified Forest National Park. Chindesaurus bryansmalli was a small carnivore, billed at the time as the oldest dinosaur ever found on the planet.
For more than a century, freight trains have rumbled up and over Marias Pass, skirting the south boundary of Glacier National Park, casting rolling shadows on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River below. Until recently the major threat was a grain car derailment, which on occasion left bears woozy from eating fermented grain. Today a derailment involving a 100-car train hauling highly combustible Bakken crude oil risks an environmental catastrophe unprecedented in National Park Service history.
Arizona is rich in history -- from the 1800s all the way back to the Late Triassic Period. Stitch together this trip that winds out of Flagstaff to Montezuma Castle National Monument, to Petrified Forest National Park, and ends at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. You’ll experience fascinating chapters of geologic and cultural history.
A window into the last Ice Age in the present-day desert outside of Las Vegas brings a missing link into the National Park System along with a small, but enticing, possibility that fossilized human remains are buried next to those of ancient bison, camels, and even lions.
Fossils large and small will be the stars of the National Park System next week when National Fossil Day is celebrated on Wednesday.
Many national parks preserve aspects of the past, and in the case of Fossil Butte National Monument, that past goes back 55 million years ago, a time when the landscape of western Wyoming was very different from the windswept plains we see today.
It took more than two decades, but a rugged, remote, and intriguing area of Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is now open to backcountry travelers.
With the travel season not too far off, you should be planning your national park adventures. If you're looking for a great scenic drive, we offer the following for your consideration.
A few acres here, a dozen over there, perhaps a thousand at a time. Those increments are slowly growing the National Park System, a system that just jumped by more than 4,200 acres in size thanks to The Conservation Fund.