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Contributed by National Park Service
The Area that is now Petrified Forest National Park has been attracting people to its unique resources for at least 13,000 years. Because of the many fossils of Triassic animals and plants which include everything from the bones of early dinosaurs and crocodile like animals, to fossil leaves, pollen, and large deposits of petrified trees that all lived between 225 and 208 million years ago, this place could be called Petrified Ecosystem National Park. In addition to tourists the park currently attracts geologists, paleontologists, historians, and also artists who come to capture the beautiful and scenic landscape.
Hundreds of archaeological sites have been discovered in this area. These include everything from some of the earliest North American spear points to Pueblo IV age habitations which date to about the time of European settlement. This incredible diversity of natural and cultural resources makes the park a research hotbed with dozens of academic partners and a strong record of publications. As an example, in early 2014 a geologic core (a thin tube of rock) taller than the Empire State Building was extracted from the park by an international team of geologists seeking to learn about climate change and extinctions during the Triassic time period.
Many years of southwestern history and culture are represented within Petrified Forest National Park and some have been captured in this collection of photographs. From prehistoric peoples to early explorers, from the Civilian Conservation Corps to Historic Route 66, the park has many stories to tell.