The 6 Proven Options To Find Tennessee Petrified Wood in 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

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The 6 Proven Options To Find Tennessee Petrified Wood in 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD


Petrified wood is a fascinating subject for rock collectors, geologists, and nature enthusiasts. It tells a story of a time long ago when living trees were turned into stone. In Tennessee, there are several places where you can find petrified wood.

From ancient riverbeds to deep forest trails, the state offers unique opportunities for those interested in this beautiful form of fossilized wood.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting your adventure in rockhounding, Tennessee’s diverse geography provides a wide array of locations to explore.

What Is Tennessee Petrified Wood

petrified wood in Tennessee displaying the texture of the bark and the rings of the tree
Petrified wood provided by StrangeImportsLLC

Petrified wood is like a time capsule from millions of years ago. When a tree dies and falls, sometimes it gets buried under mud, ash, or other materials.

Over time, groundwater filled with minerals seeps into the tree’s cells. These minerals start replacing the tree’s organic material. As this happens, the tree slowly turns into stone.

The cool part is that the wood’s original structure, like its rings and bark, often gets preserved, just in a stony form. This process can take millions of years.

A lot of the time, these stone tree treasures are in places that were once forests but got covered up, like riverbeds or areas with a lot of volcanic activity. Desert regions and areas with eroding cliffs can also reveal pieces of petrified wood.

The types of petrified wood found in Tennessee

One of the most exciting finds in Tennessee is petrified wood. Knowing how to identify petrified wood can open up a world of discovery.

To help you prepare for your exploration, let’s dive into the different types you can stumble upon in Tennessee:

Silicified wood

Silicified wood is a special kind of petrified wood. When a tree dies and gets buried, nature starts a cool transformation. Water packed with silica, which is a mineral found in sand and rocks, flows into the tree’s cells.

Little by little, this silica replaces the tree’s original material, turning it into stone. But here’s the neat part: even though the wood becomes stone-like, it keeps a lot of its original details. You can often see the tree rings and patterns clear as day!

Petrified Lepidodendron

Petrified Lepidodendron is an exciting find for any rock collector! Lepidodendron is an ancient and now-extinct tree that lived over 300 million years ago. It was tall and had scaly bark with no branches until the very top.

When these trees died and got buried, minerals seeped in, turning the wood into stone. This means the tree’s organic material is replaced with minerals, preserving its structure.

You’ll often find petrified Lepidodendron in Carboniferous deposits, which are layers of rock that formed during the Carboniferous period. Collectors and enthusiasts treasure these pieces as they offer a glimpse into our planet’s lush past.

How We Found Petrified Wood in Tennessee
Petrified wood can be pretty tough to find in our state if you aren’t strategic about your search. We’ve compiled a list of great locations where you can find it from a number of proven sources. These are the main inputs we used when determining the recommendations we set out :

  • The extensive local experience of our team
  • Input from a variety of local rockhounds and rockhound groups
  • The difficulty in accessing a location
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Private and public locations
  • A desire to include locations for both the experienced and newbie hunters who are just starting out

Using these inputs we think we’ve put together the best list out there for those who love finding petrified wood for our collections!

Rock pick being used

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:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America 

Southeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Southeastern Quadrant 

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 Tennessee

Rockhounding in Tennessee is like opening a time capsule filled with ancient treasures! One of the most sought-after finds is petrified wood, which tells tales of long-gone forests.

Tennessee’s diverse landscapes hide these stone remnants, waiting for keen-eyed explorers. Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the top spots to find this unique fossilized wood in the Volunteer State!

Always Confirm Access and Collection Rules!

Before heading out to any of the locations on our list you need to confirm access requirements and collection rules for both public and private locations directly with the location. We haven’t personally verified every location and the access requirements and collection rules often change without notice.

Many of the locations we mention will not allow collecting but are still great places for those who love to find beautiful rocks and minerals in the wild without keeping them. We also can’t guarantee you will find anything in these locations since they are constantly changing. 

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding. If you want even more current options it’s always a good idea to contact local rock and mineral clubs and groups

Pigeon Forge

aerial view of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, showing the town and the surrounding green hills

Pigeon Forge is a vibrant town nestled in the heart of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. This scenic spot is surrounded by rolling hills and lush forests, offering a mix of natural beauty and fun-filled attractions.

Geologically, Pigeon Forge sits in a valley carved out by ancient rivers, with the region boasting a rich tapestry of sedimentary rocks like limestone and shale.

The terrain here is a mix of flatlands dotted with businesses and attractions, and hilly areas that gradually rise to the nearby mountain ranges.

These hills and valleys not only provide breathtaking views but also hint at the geological forces that shaped them over millennia.

Pigeon Forge is well-connected by road, especially with the U.S. Route 441 running right through the heart of the town.

This main highway makes it easy for visitors from all directions to reach Pigeon Forge and dive into its mix of natural wonders and entertainment offerings.

Where we found petrified wood in Pigeon Forge

If you’re curious about where to find petrified wood, Pigeon Forge is a great place to look. Its riverbanks and creeks are treasure troves for rockhounds! As water flows, it often uncovers hidden gems like petrified wood.

The constant movement of water can wash away softer soil and rocks, revealing these ancient wooden treasures.

Places where streams twist and turn or where they widen can be especially promising. When searching, look for pieces that have a distinct wooden texture but are hard as stone.

Remember to respect nature and private property, and always ensure you have permission to collect. You can check the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for any rules and guidelines you might have to follow.

Tennessee River Museum

porch at the Tennessee River Museum displaying two large petrified logs
Tennessee River Museum by Darren Jefferson Clay

The Tennessee River Museum is a gem nestled in the heart of Savannah, Tennessee. This museum stands as a testament to the rich history and geology of the region, capturing the essence of the mighty Tennessee River’s past and present.

Streets lined with charming shops and restaurants lead the way to the museum’s doors. The terrain around the museum is mainly flat, making it easy for visitors of all ages to navigate.

The museum showcases the story of the Tennessee River Valley, from ancient sea beds to the shaping of the land by water over time.

With fascinating displays, visitors can witness the tale of the rocks, minerals, and fossils that belong to this region.

Located downtown, the museum is easily accessible by car with ample parking nearby. For those using public transport, bus routes frequently stop close by.

Where we found petrified wood at the Tennessee River Museum

One of the Tennessee River Museum’s standout displays features two impressive petrified logs. The Museum is right on Main Street. Once you’re there, turn into Adams Street and head to the right side of the museum.

There, you’ll see a porch. The museum keeps two large Tennessee petrified wood logs there, where they can easily be seen if you happen to pass by.


aerial view of the town of LaFollette, Tennessee
LaFollette by Brian Stansberry

LaFollette is a charming town nestled in the rolling hills of eastern Tennessee. It’s part of Campbell County and is surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Cumberland Mountains.

The town’s landscape is characterized by lush valleys, steep ridges, and an abundance of natural resources, making it a haven for rockhounds and nature enthusiasts.

Geologically, LaFollette sits atop layers of sedimentary rock, like limestone and shale, formed from ancient seas that once covered the area. This geological history also means there are fossil-rich areas waiting to be explored.

Getting to LaFollette is a breeze, thanks to its connectivity via highways and its proximity to larger cities like Knoxville.

Whether you’re on a hunt for unique rocks or just soaking in the serene views, LaFollette offers a perfect blend of nature and history.

Where we found petrified wood in LaFollette

One of the best spots to search is along the banks and beds of local creeks and streams. Over time, water flow uncovers and transports petrified wood pieces, leaving them in these areas.

Mississippi River

concrete bridge crossing the Mississippi River

The mighty Mississippi River, one of America’s most iconic waterways, flows beautifully through Tennessee. This river has carved its path for millions of years, shaping the landscape and playing a vital role in Tennessee’s history and economy.

The terrain around the Mississippi in this state is mainly flat floodplains, making it a crucial habitat for many plants and animals. The river’s banks tell stories of ancient sediments, holding evidence of the earth’s past, much to a geologist’s delight!

If you’re thinking of visiting, it’s pretty easy. The river runs directly alongside cities like Memphis, offering scenic views and accessible parks. Roads and highways are well connected, ensuring that reaching the Mississippi’s shores is a breeze.

Where we found petrified wood along the Mississippi River

If you’re looking to add to your collection of rocks and minerals, head to the gravel bars along the Mississippi River. These spots are rich with various stones and fossils, and petrified wood pieces often get mixed in.

One hotspot for these ancient wooden gems is near Richardson’s Landing. As the river’s currents move and shift, they reveal these hidden wonders.

Hardin County

view of a lake in Hardin County during the evening
Hardin County by Kbh3rd

Hardin County sits comfortably in the southwestern part of Tennessee and is a gem for nature lovers and rock enthusiasts alike! The county is graced by the beautiful Tennessee River, giving it scenic riverbanks and lush green landscapes.

The region features rolling hills and flatlands, making it a diverse playground for outdoor adventures. 

Geologically, the area showcases a mix of sedimentary rocks, and with the river flowing through, there’s always the chance of uncovering fascinating fossils and mineral deposits.

If you’re eager to visit, it’s pretty straightforward! Major highways, like the US-64, run directly through Hardin County, making it accessible from various parts of the state.

Where we found petrified wood in Hardin County

Hardin County in Tennessee offers prime spots to discover petrified wood. The Coffee Bluff area is where you’d want to head! This location is known among rockhounds as a go-to place for these finds.

Other Great Places To Find Tennessee Petrified Wood

petrified wood branch showing the texture of the tree bark
Petrified wood provided by Adamasiberica

Let’s dive into the exciting spots in Tennessee where you can discover the beauty of petrified wood!

County Location
Fayette County Laconia

General Areas You Should Try

petrified wood chunk showing the texture of the tree bark
Petrified wood provided by RJsCreationsDesigns

Tennessee is a treasure trove for rock enthusiasts, especially if you’re on the hunt for petrified wood. From riverbanks to gravel bars, the state offers diverse landscapes where these ancient remnants await discovery.

Let’s explore the kinds of places in Tennessee where you can find petrified wood!

Rivers and riverbanks

Rivers and riverbanks are like nature’s treasure maps for those who love collecting petrified wood. Over time, rivers carve out paths and erode the land, revealing hidden gems that have been buried for millions of years.

As the water flows, it moves smaller pieces of rock and wood, often depositing them on riverbanks. This means a stroll along a riverbank can lead you to ancient pieces of petrified wood!

For collectors, this is exciting news. Rivers naturally do the hard work of uncovering these precious pieces. Plus, every rainfall or change in the river’s path can expose new finds.

So, every trip to a river or riverbank can be a fresh adventure, offering new discoveries. Remember to always look closely at the ground, especially in gravelly areas.

With keen eyes and a bit of luck, you’ll soon add some amazing Tennessee petrified wood to your collection!

Streams and creeks

Streams and creeks are amazing hotspots for finding petrified wood. These waterways, always on the move, help uncover hidden treasures that have been tucked away under the earth for ages.

As water rushes over the land, it gently brushes away layers of soil, giving us a sneak peek into the past. Among those treasures are often pieces of petrified wood!

Collectors, grab your bags and buckets! The ever-changing flow of streams and creeks means there’s always a chance of stumbling upon a new find.

The twists and turns of these water paths can trap and display these ancient goodies right on the banks.

Keep an eye on areas with lots of pebbles and stones; they can often hide petrified wood pieces. The joy of walking along a creek, hearing the water flow, and suddenly spotting a piece of ancient history is unmatched.

Lake shores

Lake shores are like treasure chests for rock collectors, especially those searching for petrified wood. Here’s why they’re so awesome:

First, lakes often collect materials, like rocks and wood, from the surrounding area. Over time, as water levels rise and fall, the shores get covered with these materials. If any petrified wood is around, the lake will gather it up!

Second, the constant action of waves can expose hidden pieces. Waves move sand and smaller stones, revealing the hidden treasures beneath. So, every visit can bring new finds as the lake does the digging for you!

Lastly, lakes are calm and peaceful, making it a joy to spend time searching. The gentle lapping of waves and the chirping of birds create the perfect backdrop for a day of rockhounding.

Plus, the wet environment can make petrified wood glisten, making it easier to spot.

So, next time you’re near a lake, take a moment to scan the shores. You might just stumble upon a beautiful piece of ancient history!

Common Questions About Finding Petrified Wood In Tennessee

Let’s explore some of the commonly asked topics about petrified wood in Tennessee, a subject that sparks curiosity in many rock enthusiasts and collectors alike!

How old is petrified wood in Tennessee?

Petrified wood in Tennessee takes us on a cool journey back in time! Most of the petrified wood found here comes from the Cretaceous period, which is often called the “Dinosaur Time”.

So, when you’re holding a piece of this petrified wood, you’re touching something that’s about 75 million years old.

This time was filled with massive reptiles, both on land and in the sea. Think of the T-Rex and the Triceratops; they were roaming around when this wood was still a living tree.

Tennessee was a bit different back then, with swamps and warm shallow seas.

Can you find petrified palm wood in Tennessee?

You might think that Tennessee has all types of petrified wood, but here’s something interesting: you won’t find petrified palm wood here. Instead, Tennessee has its own special treasures, like petrified Lepidodendron.

Now, Lepidodendron might sound like a mouthful, but it’s a super cool ancient plant that kind of looks like today’s palm trees. 

These Lepidodendron plants were massive, growing tall and straight, and they lived way before the dinosaurs! So, while you won’t stumble upon petrified palm wood, finding a piece of Lepidodendron is just as awesome.

The Best Places To Buy Petrified Wood In Tennessee

interior of a Tennessee rock shop with shelves displaying rocks, minerals, and crystals for sale
Jae’s Gem Mine

Learning how to find petrified wood is a fun adventure, especially when you know the right places to look! However, if you’re not up for exploring, you can buy petrified wood instead.

You’ll find great selections at local rock and mineral shops. See our top picks below:

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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