There are a lot of really famous parts of Southern Utah. Such as Zion National Park. But then there are the lesser known, local secrets. One of these secret places is Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Even among those you pass through the town of Escalante, the park is largely unvisited. But if your plans take you along Highway 12 through the Grand Staircase, spare a thought for The Petrified Forest. It’s actually pretty cool.
The park is located outside of the town of Escalante. It encompasses 1,300 acres of desert, preserving ancient fossils from plant and animals species – including dinosaurs. If you stop by, hike the Petrified Forest Trail. This is a one-mile loop through old lava flows that gives you the best overview of the fossils. Next check out the visitor center, which doubles as a museum and houses some of the most valuable fossils. Some items are even occasionally for sale
In addition to a fun little hike and an impressive fossil collection, the Petrified Forest is also home to Wide Hollow Reservoir. This reservoir is perfect for boating, swimming, and fishing (it is stocked with bluegill and rainbow trout.)
The Escalante Petrified Forest State Park charges a fee of six dollars per entering vehicle – included in this cost are the watercraft launching fees. Camping is available at the Wide Hollow Reservoir Campground. Each campsite costs sixteen dollars per night.
For more information about this park, check out the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park website.
Of course, this little gem of a park will probably be bundled into your plans for the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. Check out our favorite hike in the Staircase: Calf Creek (both upper and lower.) It’s the best way to cool off on a hot day.