Each national park has its own unique set of visitor challenges.
The Petrified Forest’s challenge is wholesale theft of petrified wood. Samples, especially large ones, command high prices on the black market. Theft is a chronic, ongoing problem.
Rules are exceptionally frustrating to wilderness landscape photographers.
You see, the Petrified Forest is locked up tighter than a drum during the best light of the day… sunrise and sunset… and it is heavily patrolled! No one is allowed to break the rules.
Yours truly tested that theory in mid-winter by innocently ( 😉 😉 ) being alone way off at the end of a long trail at closing time.
Sunset photography would have been soooo nice!
But NO! When I sneaked around a corner back into view there he was… Mr. Park Ranger! He was walking up the deserted path to meet me. He looked like a pro football linebacker bee-lined onto a hapless quarterback.
His white pickup was parked uncomfortable close to my poor little CRV. Even from a distance I could see it quaking in its tires.
In the hours before getting unceremoniously kicked out, I managed a couple snapshots…
There are huge open spaces, yet the glyphs are packed as tight as sardines.
Speculating on their meaning is a study in pre-Columbian psychosis.
In the end, though, rangers sweep the park and make sure that every single visitor is hustled out. No exceptions.
Even my normally effective charm offensive got nuthin’!!
The ranger followed me out, locked the gate and off I went on to the next lesser known, but more photographer friendly location.