Petrified Trees, Yellowstone National Park
A short walk near Tower junction are some petrified trees. Cool - trees that are so old they are now rocks (how many years ago were they trees I wonder?). Not insignificant sized trees either.
I did an internet search on the petrified trees of Yellowstone, and there are many discussions on the trees. Topics like how is it that they are standing upright, is it associated with the Noah's flood, etc. etc.
Coming from Mammoth junction and heading towards Tower, about a km before there is a spur road south (on the right) that leads up to a short trail to this petrified tree. This is the last tree here out of a set of three, now behind a fence as thoughtless souvenir hunters have removed all that was remaining of the other two. This tree was fossilized after being smothered in volcanic ash.
This site is sort of a tease. It's on the map, just north of Tower-Roosevelt. You take a short spur road to get to the parking area, and from there, it's another short trip up a small paved trail to see what amounts to little more than a stump of a petrified tree behind a fenced in area. Sadly, the fence is necessary to protect it from collectors. Apparently there used to be other petrified trees here, but they were picked apart by park visitors who took the pieces home as souvenirs (a sad story played out to an even larger degree at Petrified Forest National Park.) If you have time, stop by, but if not, you can pass this one up.
The petrified tree in Yellowstone is located near the Mammoth Hot Springs area. They were Petrified in the Eocene times about 50 million years ago. Volcanic eruptions in the Yellowstone Caldera created lava and ash flows which surrounded the redwood forests. The abundance of silica in the ash and lava choked the trees and as the process goes, silica basically replaced the living cells of the tree trunk. That these trees were redwoods tell researchers that the area was much wetter in the times when they were formed as the drier climate that is now experienced in Yellowstone would not likely support the needs of a redwood.
These petrified stumps are fragile and their once were 3 stumps that stood on the hillside nearby. The other two stumps were chipped away and taken as souvenirs by thoughtless park visitors who did not realize that their actions were actually destroying the irreplaceable attractions. When you visit the petrified tree today you will find a large fence around it. The fence is to prevent visitors from doing to the last stump what was done to the other 2 and chip away at its facade.
For more petrified tree viewing the hillside of Specimen Ridge contains an entire petrified forest overlooking the Lamar Valley.