Petrified Wood Colorado Guide | Worth, Collection Sites and More


Petrified wood is a fascinating natural wonder. It is the evolution of a tree into a rock with beautiful rings of minerals inside. Today, we will look at the best spots to look for petrified wood in Colorado.

Colorado is known for its breathtaking landscapes and diverse geological formations. It is a haven for fossil enthusiasts and rockhounds alike. Among the myriad treasures hidden within its borders, petrified wood stands out as a fascinating and visually stunning specimen.

The state has various kinds of petrified wood that we have found during our journey. Some of the specimens even date back to 50 million years ago. Colorado is home to the Rocky Mountains which were formed barely 80 million ago. It means there is a lot of potential to find petrified wood.

How We Picked the Best Spots for Finding Petrified Wood in Colorado

When it comes to choosing the best spots for finding Petrified Wood in Colorado, we had to consider a lot of things such as:

  • Understanding of our team about the area.
  • Recommendations from the local mining groups.
  • Accessibility to the mining area.
  • Safety and potential hazards.
  • Private and public locations.

Also, look at our gem mining spots in Kentucky and the best spots to find geodes in Missouri

Types of Petrified Wood Found in Colorado

Petrified wood is a remarkable geological phenomenon that occurs when organic material transforms into stone over thousands or even millions of years. The process, known as petrification, replaces the original wood tissue with minerals.

Colorado has a variety of petrified wood that you can find, each with its unique characteristics.

Agatized Petrified Wood

Renowned for its vibrant colors and smooth, glassy texture, agatized petrified wood is formed when the original wood is replaced by agate, a type of microcrystalline quartz.

This kind has stunning patterns and hues, making it highly sought-after by collectors.

Opalized Petrified Wood

Opalized Petrified Wood is rare and has opal within the fossilized structure. The play of colors within the opal, ranging from fiery reds to iridescent blues, adds a captivating dimension to these specimens.

Jasperized Petrified Wood

Jasper, a type of chalcedony, can replace the organic matter in wood, creating petrified wood with earthy colors and intricate patterns. Jasper petrified wood often exhibits a rich interplay of reds, browns, and yellows.

Where to Find Petrified Wood in Colorado

Here are some of the best spots in Colorado where you can find petrified wood:

  1. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
  2. Elbert County
  3. Willow Creek
  4. Dolores River
  5. Castle Rock
  6. Hills in Poncha Springs

1. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is located in Teller County and is a treasure trove of prehistoric wonders, including a remarkable collection of petrified wood.

The site dates back to the Eocene epoch, approximately 34 million years ago, offering a unique opportunity to explore the area for petrified wood. You can find petrified wood in the massive redwood trees and stumps along the Petrified Forest Loop.

The petrified forest at Florissant Fossil Beds is renowned for its well-preserved specimens. However, do note that there are rules and regulations about what you can collect and cannot.

2. Elbert County

Elbert County

For those seeking petrified wood in a less crowded setting, Elbert County is a hidden gem in Colorado. It is located on the plains to the east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

This area is known for its diverse geological formations, and petrified wood can be found scattered across the landscape. You can find unique specimens along the hills and valleys of Elbert County. Some of the areas you should check out in Elbert County are:

  • Kit Carson Monument
  • Cherry Creek
  • Windmills are in Fondis
  • Bijou Creek
  • Kiowa Creek

Remember to obtain any necessary permits or permissions before embarking on your fossil hunting expedition.

3. Willow Creek

Willow Creek

Nestled in the Gunnison National Forest, Routt County, Willow Creek is a picturesque location that boasts not only stunning natural scenery but also an abundance of petrified wood.

The creek’s gravel bars and surrounding hillsides are known to yield a variety of petrified wood specimens, with agatized and jasper varieties being particularly prevalent.

The terrain of Willow Creek can be rugged, but if you decide you venture off, you get a chance to discover beautiful petrified wood. Just make sure to explore the nooks and crannies of the creek.

4. Dolores River

Dolores River

The Dolores River winds its way through southwest Colorado, and it is another great destination to look for petrified wood.

The river’s banks and adjacent hillsides often reveal fragments and whole specimens of petrified wood, making it an ideal location for those eager to explore Colorado’s geological wonders.

If you wish to make a visit, you should consider visiting the river in the early morning when the sunlight illuminates the petrified wood, making it easier to spot it.

Getting to Dolores River is fairly easy and there are various towns nearby such as Gateway and Dolores.

5. Castle Rock

Castle Rock

One popular place to find petrified wood in Colorado is Castle Rock. It is situated between Denver and Colorado Springs. It is not only known for its iconic rock formation but also for the presence of petrified wood in its vicinity.

The sedimentary layers around Castle Rock may contain petrified wood specimens.

While Castle Rock is easily accessible, it’s essential to be mindful of local regulations and private property boundaries. Some areas may be off-limits to collecting, so be sure to check with local authorities and landowners to ensure a respectful and legal experience.

6. Hills in Poncha Springs

Poncha Springs

Poncha Springs is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It is surrounded by hills that have various petrified wood specimens.

These hills are known for their diverse geological formations, including petrified wood. Collectors and hobbyists often explore the slopes, uncovering petrified wood specimens.

The destination not only offers a fossil hunting trip, but the surrounding landscape offers hiking views as well. However, be prepared for variable weather conditions as it tends to change a lot.

Other Areas to Find Petrified Wood in Colorado

Apart from the popular destinations mentioned above, there are plenty of other regions in Colorado where you can find petrified wood such as:

  • Mesa County – Glade Park, Serpent’s Trail, Indian Creek Canyon, Colorado River Valley
  • El Paso County – Bijou Basin, Peyton, Calhan
  • Fremont County – Four Mile Creek
  • Garfield County – Salt Creek
  • Las Animas – Plum Creek
  • Moffat County – Bighole Gulch
  • Rio Grande County – Old Woman Creek
  • Weld County – Two Mile River, Kalouse Area
  • Yuma – South Fork Republican River
  • Cherokee Ranch in Douglas County

How Old is Petrified Wood in Colorado

Petrified Wood Colorado is one of the ancient specimens in the world, often dating back tens of millions of years. The state is covered with the Rocky Mountains which are over 80 million years old.

During the Eocene epoch, which was roughly 30-50 million years ago, Colorado was a lush area with dense forests. This is why the state has plenty of petrified wood to be found.

There are various petrified wood forests in Colorado that you can explore.

Petrified Wood Colorado FAQs

Is it legal to collect petrified wood in Colorado?

Yes, it is legal to collect petrified wood in Colorado. It may be collected up to 25 pounds/ one piece per person per day, with a maximum limit of 250 pounds per person per year.

Why is petrified wood illegal?

The legality of petrified wood collection is different for each state. In the US, the collection of petrified wood is only prohibited in natural parks and national forests to preserve natural resources.

How much is raw petrified wood worth?

The value of petrified wood depends on its size, beauty, and rarity. The rarest pieces sell for over $100,000 and the smaller pieces can be found for less than $50.


Colorado’s diverse geological landscape offers a rich tapestry of petrified wood waiting to be discovered. We have covered some of the best spots in the state to visit if you wish to collect petrified wood.

Whether you’re an avid rockhound, a casual collector, or someone simply eager to connect with Colorado’s natural wonders, exploring these sites can be a rewarding and educational experience.

Remember to obtain any necessary permits, and leave the landscape as you found it. Happy hunting!

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