Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Ginkgo Petrified Forest
It would be no exaggeration to say that I’ve passed the sign for the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park on Interstate 90 in Washington state hundreds of times…but I’ve never stopped. Why? No time to stop, I-90 meant one of two things…getting to Seattle, or getting to Spokane. No time for sight-seeing. That all changed with our mid-June trip up to Spokane, we went the long way (so we could stop in Yakima) and I finally got to visit. Let’s just say the word “forest” is a little misleading. Sure there was once a forest, but not anymore.
That great vintage sign above is not visible from the Interstate, it's for a gem shop capitalizing on the traffic to the “forest”…they even had a pet...
What the park lacked in “forest” it made up for in views. This is the mighty Columbia River…
From the Washington State Parks website…“The park was set aside as a historic preserve when remains of a fossil forest were unearthed during highway construction in the 1930s. Petrified wood from many different trees are common in the area, but specimens of petrified Ginkgo are rare. Many buildings on the premises owe their origin to the work of the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps.”
The bridge across the river (below) is Interstate 90. When I lived in Seattle I used to make this drive every few months, heading back to Spokane to see my family. It gets very hot in the middle of the state and since my car had no air conditioning crossing the river was the coolest part of the whole trip!
I think I’m going to have to start collecting pictures of “danger” signs!
In addition to bits of petrified wood (which you’ll see) there were also petroglyphs at the park. Removed from their original location (shown in the photo below) and reassembled here they looked a little “staged” (fake?), but still impressive.
Here’s the wood…
It really was quite beautiful.
Yikes! What about that rock stuck in my shoe?
There were a couple of live Gingko trees too, there had to be right?
I kept returning to stare at the river and the interesting plants growing along the cliff.
Finally inside the visitor’s center I found the promised petrified Ginkgo.
And even a leaf fossil!