44 miles E of Bryce Canyon National Park
Large chunks of colorful petrified wood decorate this unique park, which offers hiking, fishing, boating, camping, and panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside. There's wildlife to watch, trails to hike, and a 30-acre reservoir for boating, fishing, and somewhat chilly swimming.
The park is open year-round, but spring through fall is the best time to visit. Hikers should be prepared for hot summer temperatures and carry plenty of water.
Getting There -- The park is 44 miles from Bryce Canyon. It's located about 2 miles southwest of Escalante, on Utah 12, at Wide Hollow Road.
Information & Visitor Center -- Contact Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, 710 N. Reservoir Rd., Escalante, UT 84776 (tel. 435/826-4466; www.stateparks.utah.gov). The visitor center, open daily, has displays of petrified wood, fossils, and dinosaur bones more than 100 million years old, plus an exhibit explaining how petrified wood is formed.
Fees & Regulations -- Entry costs $6 per vehicle, which includes boat launching. As at most parks, regulations are generally based on common sense and courtesy: Don't damage anything, drive slowly on park roads, and observe quiet hours between 10pm and 7am. In addition, you're asked to resist the temptation to carry off samples of petrified wood. Pets are welcome, even on trails, but must be on leashes no more than 6 feet long.
The 22-unit RV and tent campground, within easy walking distance of the park's hiking trails and reservoir, is open year-round. Facilities include hot showers, modern restrooms, and drinking water. There are four sites with water and electric RV hookups. Camping costs $16 per night, $20 with hookups. Reservations are available at tel. 800/322-3770 or 801/322-3770 (www.reserveamerica.com); an $8 nonrefundable fee will be charged.
Fishing & Boating
Wide Hollow Reservoir, located partially inside the park, has a boat ramp (sorry, no rentals are available) and is a popular fishing hole for rainbow trout and bluegill, plus ice-fishing in winter.
The 1-mile loop Petrified Forest Trail is a moderately strenuous hike among colorful rocks, through a forest of stunted juniper and piñon pine, past a painted desert, to a field of colorful petrified wood. The hike also offers panoramic vistas of the town of Escalante and surrounding stair-step plateaus. A free brochure is available at the visitor center. Allow about 45 minutes. An optional .75-mile loop off the main trail -- called Trail of Sleeping Rainbows -- leads through a large amount of petrified wood, but is considerably steeper than the main trail.
This is one of the best spots in the region to see wildlife. The reservoir is home to ducks, geese, and coots. Chukar partridges wander throughout the park, and you're also likely to see eagles, hawks, lizards, ground squirrels, and both cottontails and jackrabbits. Binoculars are helpful.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.