Arizona was a very different place millions of years ago. What is now dry, desolate desert was often covered in lush forests and wetlands. You wouldn’t know it, if not for some remnants of the past that are still present to this day.
Petrified wood can be found throughout parts of the Arizona desert. In fact, the Petrified Forest State Park is one of the most popular destinations in the state. And while you can’t do any collecting within the park, there are many other areas where it is legal to collect piece of petrified wood for your collection. Here are a few of them:
1. Alamo Lake
You can find palm wood and other types of pertified wood near Alamo Lake, about 30 miles north of Wenden.
Areas to search are south and east of the lake, along the southern shores of the Santa Maria River. There are several dirt roads that venture out into the desert that offer good collecting opportunities with plenty of open lands to explore, but not in the state park. Petrified wood can be found in many area, along with jaspers and agates.
2. McCracken Mountains
There are many sites east of the McCracken Mountains that are worth exploring. The vast desert has plenty of petrified wood specimens as well as cherts, jasper, feldspar and mica samples.
This is big remote desert country. You don’t need to venture far off the main highway to find quality samples, which are widespread. Have fun exploring, but stay safe.
This site is west of Phoenix and outside of the Petrified Forest National Park (which is off-limits to collecting). There is a collecting location off of Highway 180, southeast of Holbrook and just a short distance outside of the park called the DoBell Ranch.
This is private property and you must pay a small fee to collect here, but it is well worth it. The material is some of the finest in Arizona, similar to what is found within the park. Cost will depend on how much you want to collect. This is excellent material for cutting and polishing.
4. Silver Creek
South of the town of Woodruff is a small drainage called Silver Creek. Anywhere from Woodruff down to Snowflake, one can find abundant samples of petrified wood similar to those seen in the Petrified Forest National Park.
Most samples are small, but they are perfect to rockhounds and lapidary artists. Specimens can be found for miles in this area.
5. Joseph City
Joseph City, east of Winslow, is a known petrified wood collecting site. Explore the desert north and east of town for an abundance of specimens. The wood is scattered over a large area so you should be able to find an area that hasn’t been picked over to hard yet.
Stay Safe Out There
Its always worth mentioning that Arizona is harsh and dry. Always be prepared with food and water when venturing out into the desert. Let someone know where you are going, and when you plan to return.