Petrified Wood Near Colorado Springs – Pairing Old Information with New technology!

Rockhounding is a hobby that anyone can pick up, with very little in the way of costs besides time and transportation. Colorado is a wonderland of mountains, forests and rocks. Petrified wood is always fun to find and in many places around Colorado, abundant. Let’s show you a fun way to research locations from old data sources.

Cover of Gems and Minerals, August 1967 with a stone horse on the cover.

Available on eBay, Amazon, and at mineral shows across the nation, old magazines are full of rockhounding information!


By old data sources, we mean, old magazines, books and pamphlets about collecting minerals. Rockhounding was very popular in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, which lead to the production of all sorts of printed material for rockhounds and lapidary enthusiasts. Today, even if rockhounding was nearly as popular as before, the internet is the land of independent media, yet, the information from those sources is so niche, it takes people specialized in transferring that information over to bring it to light, instead of waiting around for others to research and publish, you can take charge and research many things from your computer, using information from sources like this one, The August 1967 edition of “Gems and Minerals”.
article in 1967 Gems and Minerals about collecting Petrified wood in Colorado

Click to see at full size


The article, entitled “Petrified Wood in Eastern Colorado” by Eugene M. Beason, describes a large wash where petrified wood is plentiful. Due to the nature of these alluvial rock deposits, every year new material is churned up by erosion by wind and rain, so if there was ample material in 1967, there would be ample material in 2016. Colorado BLM rules state that you are allowed to collect up to 25 pounds of petrified wood in one day, up to 250 pounds per year and the article states that while many locations in the area have alluvial petrified wood, this location was prone to have more agate replacements in the wood, making it, in some people’s minds, more desirable.

Map from 1967 Petrified Wood in Colorado Article in Gems and Minerals

Original Map to the Petrified Wood Collecting area in the 1967 Gems and Minerals article.

Many things have changed since this article was printed, nearly 50 years later. Instead of the turn being the “Skelly Station”, we can see the map is pointing to “Peyton Highway”, which runs north to go over a mountain pass and turns hard left (west) on “County Road 74/82”, which parallels the wash that is talked about in the article. I do not think there is any need to stop at the farmhouse listed in the article to ask for permission, as the ranch land gave way many years ago to the need for housing, as the populations in nearby Denver and Colorado Springs swelled, so did the growth out into the nearby countryside. 50 years ago there were just cows and a couple windmills, now there are hundreds of houses dotting the landscape. Of course, no sane person would build a house in a wash, so, the wash in the article would look to be still accessible. Using Google Earth, you can see that the wash must be a popular place to ride off road vehicles, as there is access and distinct tire tracks in the wash, as seen from the satellite, so one would imagine that access is open, unless otherwise posted. As a wash is a waterway, access should be public.

map showing petrified wood collecting area north of Peyton Colorado

This map shows the area as shown in the illustrated map above.

As we searched google for information on this location, the terms “Peyton Petrified Wood” were coming up nearly blank. We did find an entry for it on Mindat.org, but it did not show anything directly from this location. Additionally, PeaktoPeak, a well known website for Colorado collecting, has a bit about petrified wood from that general area. Digging through field guides to Colorado, we could not find this location listed, could it have been one of the locations that simply slipped through an information hole, getting a two page article and then just…relegated to maybe popping up in a mention in a local club newsletter. It seems like this would be a good location to check out, in fact, we have a trip scheduled to Denver in the middle of June and we will update you with a first hand report from the location.

map showing the distance between denver and colorado springs and petyon colorado

as you can see, Peyton is not a far drive from Denver or Colorado Springs

Researching where rocks are found is necessary and interesting – don’t neglect to inspect old magazines and field guides from 40, 50, 60 years ago. You never know when a good location has simply fallen through the cracks and is waiting for you to find it and come explore!

Close up of the wash where you can find petrified wood near Peyton Colordado

Close up of the wash where you can find petrified wood near Peyton Colordado

photo from gems and minerals article "Petrified Wood in Eastern Colorado"

“Looking down the wash where the good petrified wood is found. Floowaters that uprooted the tree in the foreground also uncovered new gem material.” – Photo by Eugene M. Beason.

quote talking about how when it rained in 1967, the wash turned over new material.

So, when ever the rain is hard in colorado, new material is unearthed!

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The Curse of Illegally Collected Arizona Petrified Wood

Illness, Divorce and Attacking Ants – The “Curse” of Stolen Petrified Wood


At the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, stealing used to be a very prominent problem. People would frequently smuggle pieces of petrified wood they called “rocks” on their way out, leaving the park 12-15 tons short of these scientifically valuable fossilized minerals.

The Petrified Forest

Petrified tree branches and roots there had transitioned into a solid and rock-like state in a process called permineralization. It has spanned over the course of millions of years, leaving a terrain with smaller and larger pieces of petrified wood scattered everywhere.
Naturally occurring Arizona petrified wood plays an important role in multiple ongoing scientific studies, and their integrity had been put under risk by the rampant cases of stealing. After all, people who take tiny rocks don’t feel liable for the fact it amounts to more than a ton worth of stolen petrified wood per month.

Red Colored Agate Quartz replaced Petrified Wood
Iron inclusions in the stone cause the red color commonly found in petrified wood from Arizona

Trying to Combat Theft

Rangers would set up inspection stations on the road out of the park, run regular roadside sweeps and put up signs telling people to be more conscious of the regulations at Petrified Forest National Park, with mixed results.
In an unusual twist of events, however, the cases of stealing start to decrease as people become caught up with a certain mysterious “curse” that hits all thieves of petrified tree branches and roots. One of the odd psychological effects seen comes from the signage at the park. During years of having signs indicating that collecting was forbidden, theft was at an all time high. Without the signage, reported volumes of stone removed from the park plummeted. Possibly, the signs indicated that the wood is something WORTH stealing.

People Cursed by Arizona Petrified Wood

It appears that in the years of its existence since 1906, the Petrified Forest National Park of Arizona has been swept by people who return pieces of petrified wood and share stories of their misfortunes on small, sincere paper notes. The park now has them displayed in the aptly named Guilt Room. A single tour of the place persuades many people not to challenge the terrible “curse”.
The touching stories told by cursed individuals are nothing short of heartbreaking, and sometimes quite funny.

• A woman had stolen the unlucky rock on her honeymoon trip, which lead to a bitter divorce and a 20-year relationship with an abusive man.
• A man was dumped by his girlfriend of 3 years on his drive out of the park.
• One woman wonders if her husband’s early death and grandchildren’s pneumonia could be induced by the curse.
• Right nearby, someone writes about stomach cramps and diarrhea that followed the act of stealing.
• A different note tells a story of a group of five girls, each of them suffering the consequences of defying the curse that involved illness, vomiting, an attack of flying ants and many spilled drinks.

Legitimate or not, the countless notes found in the Guilt Room contain reports of seizures, hernias, giant blisters, plane crashes, drinking problems, divorces and other misfortunes that all link back to that time when their authors picked up the cursed rocks at the park.
At least their sacrifice has not been for naught, as it shames some of the visitors into keeping to the park’s rules to avoid a similar fate.

Red Colored Agate Quartz replaced Petrified Wood
Petrified wood is better when it is free of guilt, such as buying a slab from a dealer who specializes in wood, like Tom and Steven Wolfe of TomWolfeMinerals.com

No Happy Ending?

The stories keep coming and the rocks are returned. Sadly, the recovered pieces of petrified tree branches and roots can no longer be returned to their rightful place. With no way of knowing where each piece originated, important patterns of scientific research would surely be tainted.
Fortunately, both these “cursed” rocks and the sad notes that tell their story find a new home in the Guilt Room at Petrified Forest National Park, so the would-be thieves can be warned by others not to repeat their foolish mistakes.

Do not trifle with the curse of Petrified Forest!

Instead of risking for your note to be in the spotlight at Guilt Room a few years down the lane, why not buy Arizona petrified wood from TomWolfeMinerals.com? There are legal collecting spots outside the park as well as plenty of park adjacent places to buy wood, but for those who are just in love with petrified wood, Tom and Steven Wolfe of TomWolfeMinerals.com are passionate about petrified wood and not only do they have great petrified wood material from Arizona, but also from around the world.

Rarely, specimens of chromium rich wood are found, such as this green wood
While not from the petrified forest, this is found nearby, near Winslow Arizona. The green color is from inclusions of chromium, which is very uncommon.

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