Anza Borrego

The Forgotten Prehistoric Forest of Anza Borrego


We took a quick day trip out to find the remnants of the ancient petrified forest in the Anza Borrego Desert.

Millions of years ago the landscape of Anza Borrego was quite different. Instead of large expanses of dry desert, the area was covered with rivers, streams, woodlands and creatures long since forgotten. Annual rainfall was estimated to be close to 25 inches or more a year which is a far cry from the current 5-6 inches a year.

The expanding Colorado River delta eventually covered up the forests, burying the trees for millions of years leaving a snapshot in time.

Thanks to a clue from a member of the Anza Borrego Forum, we set out for the day looking for any signs of the ancient petrified forest. Exiting off the pavement we drove up the sandy wash and parked the Land Cruiser. This particular area is off limits to vehicles, so we donned hiking boots, filled water bottles and headed up a small unnamed dry tributary.


After a mile or so, we noticed small wood like shards scattered amongst the rocks. At first they were a bit hard to pick out but as we learned what to look for, we realized we had found remnants of the ancient forest.

The more we hiked, the more we discovered. Soon, the pieces we found were fire log size, all organic wood material long gone, replaced by hardened minerals and stone.


After a couple of hours of exploring, the blisters in my new hiking boots told me that our journey back in time was over 😟, so we began the trek back.

Note: Petrified Wood within the State Park boundaries is protected, so please take only pictures and memories.