Hwy 12 and Petrified Forest State Park – Escalante, UT

Scenic Highway UT-12

No one can deny that some of the best national parks are in Utah. Utah is blessed with dramatic desert landscapes and scenery that are unrivaled anywhere in the world. Above we rest our weary feet after a long day on the motorcycle at the log cabin communal fire pit, telling and hearing tales of adventure. During our travels in this magical area along Highway 12, however, we also found that Utah also has some amazing state parks that any other state would be happy to claim. As we make our way through this scenic state, we’ll visit many of the great state parks. Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is the first of them that we’ll tell you more about and hopefully inspire you to visit.

Petrified Forest State Park

The Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is just off UT-12, the Scenic Byway that goes from Bryce Canyon NP to Capitol Reef NP through some incredible scenery. The park’s main attraction is a 1-mile loop through the wilderness that lets you get up close and personal with the amazing petrified wood. The petrified wood is formed when trees are buried completely and rapidly so that they don’t have time to decay. As the buried tress lie mummified in the rock, water and minerals seep through them. Over time, the organic matter is replaced with quartz minerals and metals that change the colors of the tree as it is turned to stone. The structure of the tree remains, but it’s replaced by an incredible array of colors.

The best part about this park compared to the Petrified Forest National Park is that you can get up close and personal with the petrified wood. The national park has grand scale and expanse, but the state park lets you get closer. There are no barriers or railings to keep you away from them. You can touch and photograph the samples up close. Just don’t take any, it ruins it for the next visitor, may cause the park to put up barricades, and is believed to cause bad luck for the thief. In their visitor’s center they have an entire cabinet displaying samples that were returned. The samples are complete with letters from the offenders that sent the samples back because of the string of bad luck they all had after taking the samples. Just visit and enjoy!


Park Details

The park is open all year round except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The entrance fee is $8. There are two campgrounds, $19 and $25, with toilets and showers and hookups at the more expensive campground. There’s also a group campground for larger groups. You can rent boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes for use at Wide Hollow Reservoir at the park. It’s a great way to spend a day or a weekend!