Posted by: tylereddy | July 3, 2013

Fossil of the Week: Sarmiento’s Petrified Forest

We first learned about Bosque Petrificado Sarmiento while at Museo Egidio Feruglio. We remarked on the amazing fossilized trees in the museum and were told that they were small in comparison to the trees in a nearby petrified forest. A quick glance at the map to confirm location and Sarmiento turned into our next destination.

Sarmiento is a small agricultural town located in the south of Chubut province Patagonia (the birthplace of wind). Three buses later we arrived at our Hosteria Labrador, a working sheep and cherry farm. Everything about the place was regal – antique furniture, great beds and a lovely breakfast at a giant dining room table was a treat that I laid in bed and anticipated each night. We leisurely walked the grounds with our host Nicholas, studying the cherry trees, watching the dogs herd the sheep, and inspecting the sheep rams. Our hosts Nicholas and Analyse took great pride in their work and the farm was spotless and the rooms even more so. It was like home, well home if we lived in a beautiful English countryside cottage with sheep, gauchos and our grandparents.

Nicholas was an interesting character. He wore fine clothing, smoked Cuban cigars and was a clever entrepreneur, parlaying a thriving tourist business out of the already successful ranch. He held an heir of royalty with the comfort and wisdom of a grandfather. We were confirtable with him and enjoyed his company very much. When Kelly and I would steal a moment together she would say repeatedly “I love this place.” And the best was waiting for us the next day.

As Nicholas’ diesel SUV fought through the wind toward the park he explained that the rocks of the area were mostly Cretaceous in age, between 23 an 90 million years old. We stopped on the roadside and Nicholas explained the geology of the area. It looked like the Horseshoe Canyon Formation of Drumheller, except for a broad streak of salmon coloured rock looming in the distance. As we drove into the park Kelly whispered for the first time in over two months that she longed for Drumheller.

Drumheller is that you?

Drumheller is that you?

Strolling through the hills we encountered massive trees that look like they were abducted from the rainforest and plopped into the alien desert landscape. They we perfectly preserved, the rock easily mistaken for modern wood. Huge trunks, crowns, pieces still encased in the preservational stone, each piece slowly eroding away in the Patagonian wind. Some were horizontal sentinels of hollowed trees, the insides rotted before being preserved, while other areas looked like the area around a chopping block – shards of wood spewed everywhere. It’s not hard to envision a huge forest standing in the area during the Cretaceous.

Trees litter the desert landscape.

Trees litter the desert landscape.

E1 hot dog in one of the smaller trees

E1 hot dog in one of the smaller trees

The woodshed effect.

The woodshed effect.

Blown away by the scenery...and wind

Blown away by the scenery…and wind

Good thing that the large stumps weighed several tonnes each as we needed them for anchors to ensure we didn’t blow across the entire steppe. Some people might be most impressed by the scientific significance of the site, for me it was the beauty of the rock that truly makes Sarmiento’s Petrified Forest a memorable experience. Truly a taste of Drumheller (with petrified stumps, the English countryside, a friendly host, and a whole bunch of wind…but you get the idea!)

Team photo

Team photo to end a great day.

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Responses

  1. Over two months already? Wow… time flies when you’re in Argentina! How ironic you would find a place so much like home there… apart from the petrified forests and English countryside and sheep. Also: I want sheep photos.

    • We met the nicest sheep this week, until he decided to ram E2, then we weren’t friends.

  2. What an adventure!!!! Our boating on the strait of Georgia seems so tame and ordinary!!! So much fun to hear of the amazing things you are experiencing…..keep the blogs coming……

  3. Lamb & cherry pie in Argentina, sounds amazing. Hello to you all! Count down is on!

  4. Loving both or your blogs. I am learning so much about Argentina, rocks, fossils `n such. Hope there isn’t a test!!! Your knowledge and sense of adventure is admirable. Memories for a life time for the whole family and Grandma too. 🙂


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