Vantage petrified forest
Gingko Petrified Forest State Park

Who’s Petrified Now? Washington’s Gingko Forest

The forest wasn’t petrified. I was petrified. You know you’re not in Western Washington any more when you see this sign like this one…

Gingko Petrified Forest

Today (March 19, 2010), the Gingko Petrified Forest State Park in Vantage, Washington reopens after a winter hiatus. In contrast to Western Washington’s rainy, temperate climate, Vantage’s climate reflects its Central Washington location, just east of the towering Cascade Mountain Range. It’s darn dry here.

Millions of years ago, this area was lush and damp, a swamp-filled rainforest dripping with tropical-looking plants and giant gingko trees. Then volcanic eruptions and massive floods tore through the region, burying artifacts in soil and stone. Today, the Gingko Petrified Forest’s Interpretive Center stands on top of a violent-looking gorge, where Earth-mama drama once ripped through the land.

On the day we were there, we didn’t see any of the bobcats, rabbits or skunks that live among the 7,470-acre park’s sagebrush and Ponderosa pine. So we walked among petrified logs and tried to decipher petroglyphs.

Petrified Wood
petroglyphs at the Gingko Petrified Forest, Washington State

Inside the fascinating interpretive center, we saw fossils that staff had labeled with “looks like” signs (an angel? a coyote? a deep sea fish). We pretended like we could shop from the museum’s displays of gems and semi-precious stones.

Petrified Wood-Fish

We watched tiny speedboats power down the river, looking rather insignificant when up against the giant basalt cliffs and millenniums of history.

A speedboat on the Columbia River

Find more photos and stories at DeliciousBaby’s Photo Friday.

Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.