If you ever wander through Pennsylvania’s beautiful landscape, you’re in for a real treat! Petrified wood is a hidden treasure among the hills and valleys of this historic state. This isn’t just any kind of wood – it’s nature’s way of returning in time.
Those who are hunting petrified wood in Pennsylvania can visit many great places where your chances of success are high. You’re as likely to stumble upon a small, delicately preserved branch as you are to uncover a giant, beautifully petrified log.
Every expedition is a new chance to find nature’s work of art over time. And the great thing is, no two pieces are ever the same! So, get ready to be amazed by these fossilized wonders of Pennsylvania. You’re in for quite an adventure!
What Is Pennsylvania Petrified Wood
Petrified wood is a unique type of fossilized material. Over millions of years, the organic parts of the wood are slowly replaced by minerals. This fascinating process keeps the structure of the wood and turns it into stone but still has the microscopic details of the original wood.
Each piece of petrified wood has a story and is part of history frozen in time. The different colors, patterns, and beauty of each petrified wood show that nature is truly an artist in its own right.
Once you’ve been everywhere in our state, you can look at our detailed guide to find out where you can find petrified wood near you. We’ll keep adding new information about each state.
The types of petrified wood found in Pennsylvania
There are many kinds of petrified wood in Pennsylvania. Here are some examples of petrified wood in the state.
Coniferous petrified wood
Coniferous petrified wood contains the fossilized remains of conifer trees that have been dead for a long time. Back then, pines, firs, and spruces were the most interesting trees in the forest.
This starts when these coniferous trees die and break into sand or mud. Over time, layers of sediment build up and push down on the dead trees. Groundwater seeps through the deposits and carries a variety of minerals with it.
The cool thing is that as the minerals get into the wood, they start to replace the wood with rock. But here’s the best part: it keeps the wood’s shape, rings, and everything else. It’s a rock shaped like a tree!
Jasper petrified wood
Another interesting type of fossilized wood is jasper petrified wood. It’s made in a way that is similar to how other petrified woods are made, but jasper is added to the process.
Like other types of petrified wood, the process starts when a tree or branch is quickly covered by sediment or volcanic ash. This stops the wood from breaking down and keeps organisms from eating it.
The buried wood is filled with groundwater full of minerals like silica. As with other petrified woods, the organic material in the wood acts as a catalyst, attracting and absorbing the minerals.
Jasper is what makes jasperized petrified wood different from other types of fossilized wood. Jasper usually looks like swirls or bands of different colors, such as red, brown, yellow, and green. These colors come from various impurities present when the rock is being made.
Rainbow petrified wood
Rainbow petrified wood, also called opalized or opal petrified wood, is a fascinating natural phenomenon in which fossilized wood is replaced by opal, making a colorful display.
For rainbow petrified wood to form, a few more things are needed. It usually happens in places with volcanoes in the past because volcanic ash and debris are necessary for the process.
Rainbow petrified wood gets its colors from its different impurities and the way light interacts with its opalized structure. This type of fossilized wood has beautiful and unique patterns of color because of how the minerals, impurities, and conditions in which it turned to stone came together.
The tools every petrified wood hunter will need
When you're out looking for petrified wood having the right tools for the job is really going to make or break your success. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.
We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced petrified wood hunters which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools and kit guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.
Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing. One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.
At a minimum you should have:
1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard
2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set
3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well
4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill
5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable
6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to
7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect
The petrified wood-finding books that we use most
There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:
We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.
The Best Places To Find Petrified Wood In Pennsylvania
Here are the most incredible places to find petrified wood in the state. Even though there are more locations to do rockhounding in Pennsylvania, you can still do it to see more petrified wood specimens.
Bainbridge boasts a unique geological composition and breathtaking geography, making it an ideal location for discovering the intriguing phenomenon of petrified wood.
The area’s geology comprises sedimentary deposits that have been there for millions of years. This has led to a wide variety of rock formations. Bainbridge is on top of the Marietta Formation, known for having many fossils, like petrified wood.
This formation was made during the Late Cambrian period. It’s made up of shale, sandstone, and limestone, which makes it a good place for organic materials to stay and change.
Where we found petrified wood at Bainbridge
Conoy Township Quarry is near Bainbridge and has previously given up pieces of petrified wood. To find fragments of petrified wood, you should look through the exposed rock formations and sedimentary layers.
Before you bring the petrified wood you found in Pennsylvania back to your house, know the recent rules and regulations about collecting in the state.
Greensburg is a great place to look around and find new things. The city’s geology, geography, and unique terrain make it an excellent place for people interested in how petrified wood is made.
This highland area has rolling hills, deep valleys, and dense forests, making it an excellent place for ancient trees to grow and turn into fossils.
Whether you are a fossil hunter or just love learning about the past, Greensburg invites you to go on a journey of discovery as you explore its interesting terrain in search of petrified wood.
Where we found petrified wood at Greensburg
Beautiful parks and natural areas like Twin Lakes Park, Lynch Field, and the Westmoreland County Community College Nature Trail are all close to Greensburg. Petrified wood can often be found in these places’ exposed rock formations and geological features.
Maple Glen benefits from its proximity to Wissahickon Creek and the surrounding Wissahickon Valley Park. This picturesque valley boasts stunning landscapes, including steep-sided ravines and meandering waterways, resulting in an ideal environment for depositing and preserving petrified wood.
It’s an excellent place to look for petrified wood because it has a lot of different kinds of terrain. Hiking trails, wooded areas, and outcroppings of rock make exploring and finding fossilized pieces of old forests possible.
Where we found petrified wood at the Maple Glen
It can be helpful to look along the banks of nearby streams and creeks, like the Wissahickon Creek. Along the water’s edge, erosion caused by water flow could reveal pieces of fossilized wood.
Neshaminy Creek flows through beautiful wooded areas, open meadows, and rolling hills as it reaches the Delaware River. The creek’s path has changed its landscape, making it a place where petrified wood can form and be seen.
Because the land along Neshaminy Creek is so varied, it’s an excellent place to look for petrified wood. There are places to explore because of wooded areas and bare rock formations.
Where we found petrified wood at the Neshaminy Creek
Petrified wood pieces can be found where trees have fallen, or banks have eroded, giving fossil hunters a chance to learn about ancient forests.
Redbank Creek flows through an area with a lot of geological history. Sedimentary rocks like sandstone, shale, and limestone comprise most of the area’s geology. These rock layers are good for preserving and turning wood into petrified wood.
The creek flows through beautiful scenery like rolling hills, green valleys, and wooded areas. The creek’s path has shaped the land around it, giving it an attractive shape that helps explain why petrified wood exists.
Where we found petrified wood at Redbank Creek
Along Redbank Creek, keep an eye out for gravel bars and sandbars. Petrified wood buried and then exposed over time can sometimes be found in these natural formations.
Other Great Places To Find Pennsylvania Petrified Wood
After we recommend the best places to look for petrified wood in Pennsylvania, we’ll give you more locations to find these specimens. We put them in order by county to make things easier.
|Buck||Countywide creek beds and banks|
|York||York Haven area fields|
General Areas You Should Try
Because Pennsylvania is a big state, we want to ensure your search works. More of your attention should be paid to places where petrified wood is often found.
Fresh rock exposures
Fresh rock exposures serve as excellent locations for collectors to find petrified wood due to the unique opportunities they present. When rocks are freshly exposed due to erosion, excavation, or other natural processes, they reveal previously hidden layers that may contain fossilized treasures.
Petrified wood, the result of ancient trees transforming into stone over millions of years, can be found within these layers. By looking in new places, collectors can find well-preserved pieces of petrified wood, sometimes showing the original tree’s structure in great detail.
Rivers and riverbanks
The constant flow of water in rivers helps the natural sorting process by separating petrified wood, which is heavier, from sediment, which is lighter. Because of this, petrified wood may gather in some places, like riverbanks, where it is easier to find and collect.
Water erosion often reveals new pieces of petrified wood, making rivers and their banks an excellent place for collectors to look for them. Rivers are constantly surrounded by different ecosystems, like forests and woodlands, making it easier for organic matter to stay alive.
Streams and creeks
Streams and creeks are great places to find petrified wood because of their unique geological processes and characteristics. Water flow has changed these waterways over time, and the sedimentary layers they are made of can hide fossil treasures.
Streams and creeks often erode the land around them, revealing new layers of sedimentary rock that may have petrified wood in them. These waterways are great places for collectors to find well-preserved pieces of petrified wood because erosion can reveal hidden treasures.
Common Questions About Finding Petrified Wood In Pennsylvania
The following questions about petrified wood in Pennsylvania need to be answered.
How old is petrified wood in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the age of petrified wood can range from several hundred thousand years to several million years. The petrified wood found in the state is often associated with sedimentary rock formations that formed during various geological periods, such as the Paleozoic Era (approximately 541 to 252 million years ago).
Can you find petrified palm wood in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can find petrified palm wood in Pennsylvania. Petrified palm wood is a type of petrified wood that comes from the fossilized remains of ancient palm trees.
Palm trees are not native to Pennsylvania, but there have been times in the state’s geological history when they were.
The Best Places To Buy Petrified Wood In Pennsylvania
Not everyone likes to spend an entire day outside looking for petrified wood. Sometimes, you only want something new to add to your collection or give as a present. Here are some rock shops in Pennsylvania where you can buy petrified wood: