As one of two unique spots in Calistoga, with the Old Faithful Geyser, the Petrified Forest is a great visit if you are in the area. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t fully understand petrified trees before I visited this spot. However, after seeing them, I can appreciate how unique it is to have a trail like this where you walk a little less than a mile and can see a half-dozen beautifully preserved trees. Not to mention, these are supposed to be the largest in the entire world. Here is all the info if you want to check it out yourself.
- Cost: $10
- Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM. Docent lead tours at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM
- Location: 4100 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga Ca 94515
- Information from my visit in 2017
History was taken from here:
Since 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.
After driving up a windy hill road from the town I arrived at the small parking lot for the Petrified Forest. While you are traveling up the road, you will see signs for the forest, but the last sign does come out of nowhere, so make sure to be watching for it.
After walking up to the house that had been renovated into a shop, I paid my fee, received a map, and hit the trail.
The map shows you all of the different points of interest along the trail, and it is a great way to see/understand the forest. Right from the beginning of the trail, there is an example of a petrified tree as well, with a sign talking about how they came to be. You can read about it here. While walking along the trail here are a few of my favorite spots.
The Pit Tree
The Tunnel Tree
Robert Louis Stevenson Tree
Also, there is a .5 mile round trip spur that heads off the trail near the back, which I would recommend you take. This short hike over a relatively flat path, takes you back to a small meadow that features a beautiful view of Mt St Helena, the old active volcano.
If you continue past that for a tenth of a mile, you will also see the area where the ash fell from the eruption. It features a plaque with a lot of information on the area and what makes up ash falls.
All in all, this is a unique spot that you will have to decide whether your family will enjoy or not. I thought it was exciting, and it provided a unique attraction that we don’t often see. If you get a chance to visit, let me know in the comments.