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20 Facts About Petrified Forest National Park

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Petrified Forest National Park is a United States national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona.

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States.

Petrified Forest National Park by GoTraveler

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Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the fee area of the park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.

In physical geography, a steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes.

Badlands are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water.

Petrified wood is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation.

Petrified Forest National Park 3-minute Tour by finleyholiday

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The park's headquarters is about 26 miles east of Holbrook along Interstate 40, which parallels the BNSF Railway's Southern Transcon, the Puerco River, and historic U.S. Route 66, all crossing the park roughly east–west.

The Southern Transcon is a railroad corridor between Southern California and Chicago, Illinois and serves as a BNSF Railway main line made up of 11 rail lines between Southern California and Chicago.

Interstate 40 is a major east-west Interstate Highway running through the south-central portion of the United States generally north of Interstate 10 and Interstate 20 but south of Interstate 70.

The BNSF Railway is one of the largest freight railroad networks in North America, second to the Union Pacific Railroad, and is one of seven North American Class I railroads.

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The site, the northern part of which extends into the Painted Desert, was declared a national monument in 1906 and a national park in 1962.

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The park received 643,274 recreational visitors in 2016, representing a decrease of 19% from the prior year and slightly below the ten year average of about 660,000.

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Typical visitor activities include sightseeing, photography, hiking, and backpacking.

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Averaging about 5,400 feet in elevation, the park has a dry windy climate with temperatures that vary from summer highs of about 100 °F to winter lows well below freezing.

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More than 400 species of plants, dominated by grasses such as bunchgrass, blue grama, and sacaton, are found in the park.

Bouteloua gracilis is a long-lived, warm-season perennial grass, native to North America.

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Fauna include larger animals such as pronghorns, coyotes, and bobcats, many smaller animals, such as deer mice, snakes, lizards, seven kinds of amphibians, and more than 200 species of birds, some of which are permanent residents and many of which are migratory.

The bobcat is a North American cat that appeared during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago.

The pronghorn is a species of artiodactyl mammal indigenous to interior western and central North America.

The coyote ; from Nahuatl pronunciation is a canine native to North America.

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About half of the park is designated wilderness.

Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity.

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The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Period, about 225 million years ago.

A fossil is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age.

The Late Triassic is the third and final of three epochs of the Triassic Period in the geologic timescale.

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The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name.

The Chinle Formation is an Upper Triassic continental geologic formation of fluvial, lacustrine, and palustrine to eolian deposits spread across the U.S. states of Nevada, Utah, northern Arizona, western New Mexico, and western Colorado.

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Beginning about 60 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau, of which the park is part, was pushed upward by tectonic forces and exposed to increased erosion.

The Colorado Plateau, also known as the Colorado Plateau Province, is a physiographic and desert region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States.

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All of the park's rock layers above the Chinle, except geologically recent ones found in parts of the park, have been removed by wind and water.

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In addition to petrified logs, fossils found in the park have included Late Triassic ferns, cycads, ginkgoes, and many other plants as well as fauna including giant reptiles called phytosaurs, large amphibians, and early dinosaurs.

Cycads are seed plants with a long fossil history that were formerly more abundant and more diverse than they are today.

Phytosaurs are an extinct group of large, mostly semiaquatic Late Triassic archosauriform reptiles.

Ginkgo is a monotypic genus of highly unusual non-flowering plants.

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Paleontologists have been unearthing and studying the park's fossils since the early 20th century.

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The park's earliest human inhabitants arrived at least 8,000 years ago.

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By about 2,000 years ago, they were growing corn in the area and shortly thereafter building pit houses in what would become the park.

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Later inhabitants built above-ground dwellings called pueblos.

Pueblos are modern and old communities of Native Americans in the Southwestern United States.

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Although a changing climate caused the last of the park's pueblos to be abandoned by about 1400 CE, more than 600 archeological sites, including petroglyphs, have been discovered in the park.

Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading, as a form of rock art.

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