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Petrified Forest, Calistoga
(2.6/5 based on 360+ reviews on the web)
The Petrified Forest is a petrified forest located in Sonoma County, California, in the United States. It is the only petrified forest in California from the Pliocene. It also has the largest petrified trees in the world. The forest is privately owned, yet it is open to the public to visit every day of the year.HistoryGeological historyApproximately 3.4 million years ago a volcano eruption at Mount St. Helena caused the trees to become petrified. The process took thousands of years to complete. Diane Erwin, from the University of California, Berkeley, stated in 2012, that the petrified forest shows that redwood trees were once located more inland, unlike their contemporary ancestors that are primarily coastal. The Palynological Society calls the forest "one of the finest examples in the world of an ancient forest."19th centuryThe forest was discovered in 1870 by Othniel Charles Marsh. Marsh determined that the petrified trees were Sequoia langsdorfii from the Sequoia genus. There is also one petrified pine tree in the forest. Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned the forest in his book The Silverado Squatters (1883).TodaySince the early 20th century, the same Calistoga based family has maintained and operated the forest. The forest was bought by Ollie Orre Bockee, from M.C. Meeker, around 1912. The total purchase cost was $14,000. Bockee continued to purchase surrounding land and acquired a total of 845 acres. Bockee opened the property to tourists around 1914 and charged 50 cents per person. Bockee died in 1950. Her sister became the owner of the property. Bockee's direct descendants maintain it today. It was listed on the California Historical Landmarks list on January 31, 1978. In 2012, the family started to send fossilized pollen samples to the University of California, Berkeley for research.
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TripAdvisor
  • Seeing the remains of a 3.4 million year old tree is fairly impressive . For real insight organise around the docent tour the guide was a charming Englishman and filled us in on all the local history ...  more »
  • We found the visit very interesting. It could also be because we were there out of season, and so practically had the park to ourselves. There were only three of us following our (very good) guide Rac...  more »
  • The petrified wood is very cool. Exploring this over 3 million year-old event with your kids is a good learning opportunity. The trails are well made, although not all are wheelchair accessible. We co...  more »