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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
  • We face the Park upon entering from the South, from Rainbow Visitor Center, then along the scenic drive that leads first to the trail of the Crystal Forest (1.2 km loop). the sides of the road hundreds of trees now petrified after a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. cute, but I thought better.
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  • Actually not much to see. They do provide a tour guide to give information as to what you are looking it. You can do this in 30 minutes. Not worth the admission. A true tourist trap 
  • Didn’t know what to expect and turned out to be a highlight of our trip. My wife is no history buff and said afterwards that it made her interested in geological history. Worth going to if you feel li...  more »