Our family loves the outdoors, and hiking! So, when I was researching hiking trails in the Napa Valley, I came across The Petrified Forest located in Calistoga. I had no idea we had one here in the Bay Area! This sounded amazing, and like something we needed to check out. We are so glad we did!
The Petrified Forest in Calistoga features petrified redwood tress which are frozen in time. They fell over about 3.4 million years ago, you read that right, 3.4 million years ago! The trees were knocked down forcefully by a volcanic explosion from a volcano located behind present-day Mount Saint Helena. It is no longer a mountain, and it is dormant; buried behind our current mountain. The explosion was so forceful, it toppled a redwood forest filled with trees which have been aged at over 2000 years old at the time of the explosion. Can you imagine? Trees which were already 1000-2000 years old, toppled over by a volcano, then preserved under the ash for 3.4 million years! It’s incredible!
We took the 11am guided tour which was incredibly interesting. Our tour guide taught us so much about petrified wood and the history of the forest. He was incredibly nice, and so informative! We really enjoyed the tour.
The tour is also a hike, so if you go, wear a good pair of hiking shoes or boots. My hiking boots were perfect for the terrain. Also be sure to allow enough time for the tour. It was roughly 1.5 hours which was not only a good hike, it was a lot of time to learn a ton of information from our guide. We loved it!
You can learn more about The Petrified Forest on their website.
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Have you seen a petrified forest before? What did you think?
Anytime we travel, we always try to work in at least one hike. Since we love hiking as a family, we always enjoy checking out the trails in a new place, and being able to see the local vegetation and terrain.
Ventura is nice little beach town, so we thought it would be fun to hike on a trail which paralleled the beach. Emma Wood State Park is a huge beach area off highway 101 which includes camping, and hiking trails. We decided to go on a really easy trail with the kids which we picked up at the group camp-grounds. The trail was paved, and it attracted many families on bikes, as well as serious bike riders. Walking on this trail wasn’t as peaceful as we thought it would be since we had to be very aware of the bike riders. If you are looking for a more serious hike, there are plenty of trails away from the beach. If you just want scenery, this is a great trail for beach views.
The total hike was about one mile. It parallels the beach, and the railroad tracks, which is fun if you have a child who loves trains! Although my kids are on the older side, they still enjoy seeing a train go by. We saw two trains pass while we were there, and the kids stopped to wave at it as it went by.
This beach has a lot of stick structures which beach-goers have made over time. It’s fun to sit inside one of the tee-pees or climb on the rocks which line the back of the beach. If you are along the coast in Ventura, this is a fun beach day! You can do an easy hike, enjoy the scenery, watch trains go by, and enjoy the beach! We even saw people fishing, so I assume you can do that too!
Stay tuned for more coverage from our road trip to Ventura!
The Big Island is famous for more than just smooth, Kona coffee, it is also famous for its active volcanoes! While there weren’t any volcanoes spilling lava during our stay in Hawaii, we were able to tour Volcanoes National Park and view the craters, and steam vents, up close.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was slightly over two hours by car from our hotel in Kona. It was an easy drive, and the scenery was unreal. Going over to the park, we drive up and over the mountain which allowed us to see lava fields from the car. We were also able to see the vegetation growing back over the lava fields; many of which were centuries old.
It was incredible to see how the lava dried over the years, and the land formations they created. It was beautiful and eerie at the same time. As you head in Hilo from highway 200, you can see the land go from lava and desolate, to lush and tropical. It’s really incredible!
Entering Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is easy. There were hardly any cars in front of us at the gate, and it’s only $25 for one car. The parking lot for the visitor’s center was less than a minute from the gate, so it was easy to enter, park, and then put on our hiking shoes before visiting the Visitor’s Center.
The Visitor’s Center is a must-see at Volcanoes National Park. They have incredible maps, and the rangers will gladly give you history, facts, and any information you need. They are super nice! We spent some time there before starting our first hike.
We decided to go for a flat hike since we had the kids with us. The flat hike wove through the steam vents. Apparently I cannot handle the sulfur, and I quickly needed to turn around and go back towards the Visitor’s Center. At least the kids were OK. I was left with a burning sore throat for the next twelve hours! I recommend trying another trail when you go, just a thought, but I digress. . .
Since that trail didn’t work, we went over to “Crater Trail” and hiked down towards the crater. It was lush and tropical; it was also very steep! This is fine with medium to full size kids, but if your kids are little, I would not recommend this trail. Although it is very steep, it’s such a great workout; and it was really beautiful!
After hiking, we stopped into Volcano House for lunch. This is a restaurant inside the historic inn, Volcano House, across from the Visitor’s Center at Volcanoes National Park. The food was really good, and we had a view of one of the craters! It was stunning and surreal to eat lunch knowing we were practically on top of a volcano crater! Eeeek! -that being said, I highly recommend it! Haha
After lunch, it started raining, so we decided to do the car tour. There is a road which leads you to many significant lava fields, and then ends up at the ocean where you can look back and see the lava trails on the mountain. Plus, the oceanfront offers an incredible arch!
The drive is really well planned out by the park service. There are signs along the road which tell you the name of the lava field, and the year of the eruption. The significant eruptions have turn-offs where you can park your car and view the lava field. You can get some incredible photos and views of the lava fields this way!
The ranger at the beach was also extremely nice. She told us about the lava fields leading to the ocean, some of which were roughly seven hundred years old! There was also a trail near the ocean where you can view ancient Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs drawings. We were too tired to stop and look at them, which I regret now. We should have topped to see them. If you go, stop and see them! They have been there for over six hundred years!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must-see if you visit the Big Island. After all, where else are you going to be able to see lava fields and learn the history behind them? It’s incredible!
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Thanks for stopping by! More Hawaii coverage coming!