Palmer Divide Petrified Wood

Here are some of the petrified wood pieces that I picked up at my friend’s property in Northeastern Douglas County in Colorado this last weekend. The wood in Douglas County dates back up to 55 million years ago. To put this in perspective, the last phase of tectonic activity formed Rocky Mountains around 80-55 million years ago; so these are wood from the forests on the craggy, new Rocky Mountains! Interestingly, much more recently in time (about 100ish years ago), wood forested from the Palmer Divide was used to build cities like Denver. Forests have covered the land here in east-central Colorado for a long time!

So how did I find it, well, I just walked around and picked it up off of the ground, for the most part.  It tended to be all together, so once I found something on the surface, I could search around that area and find more.  I also tried digging some, and there was more under the surface as well.

Still searching for the intact logs on this property like was found recently at the Cherokee Ranch in central Douglas County!  Anyone have any suggestions for lapidary treatment of petrified wood?

What a great find!
What a great find!
This was one of the larger pieces I brought home. About 16 to 18 inches long.
This was one of the larger pieces I brought home. About 16 to 18 inches long.


These red and orange pieces are just beautiful!
These red and orange pieces are just beautiful!


Some of the pile, you can see the variety of color and agatized wood.
Some of the pile, you can see the variety of color and agatized wood.
I especially liked the color on this piece.
I especially liked the color on this piece.
This has the neat bark and also a view into the beautiful golden yellow wood.
This has the neat bark and also a view into the beautiful golden yellow wood.


  1. Nice finds! I have also been collecting this wood but from the Parker area. I gave up fly fishing trips to collect wood instead.
    I have been a lapidary for over 50 years. My suggestion is treat it as the hard 7moh hardness and polish with cerium oxide or 50,000 mic diamond for really tiny pieces. Careful of heat friction.
    MOST IMPRESSIVE: A lot of this area wood is fluorescent under SW UV light. A brilliant green sometimes orange. A good UV light by “way2cool” is worth the initial expense and will really enhance your collecting efforts.
    We may think some of this material is common, because we learned how to find it. Do not underestimate the beauty and special qualities. Under magnification I have found “smithsonite” formations that kept me awake for hours.
    Happy hunting! Its nice to see someone else shares the same interest.

    1. Hi Ed. Thanks for the comments. You stated my site was marked unsafe, can you provide more information? Did your browser say that, did Google or another site flag it this way? I did a preliminary search and also malware search of the site and didn’t see any issues. Thanks for the information, I want to ensure my site stays hack free.

      Appreciate the lapidary tips!!!


      1. Maybe a false alarm regarding unsafe. Sorry for the scare. I haven’t has any problems since. I ran a malware scan and all is good. Hope to meet you in the fields after the polar vortex.

  2. I live in Parker and have a lot of this on my property. I do not have to tools to polish this but would be willing to trade raw material for some polish work if you have the capability. If not thanks for the great site and very interesting photos.

    1. Hi Michael.

      Thanks for the note. I don’t have an effective way to polish these yet; I use a flat lap but that doesn’t work well for this type of stone. I will let you know if I am able to help in the future.

    2. I’m a retired geologist and I’ve been collecting rocks, minerals, fossils for many decades. Also taught lapidary and gemology many decades ago in graduate school.

      Over the last 10 years I’ve focused on prospecting for fossilized wood from north of Commerce City down to Falcon especially the Palmer Divide.

      I would be glad to provide polished cabs, etc., even training for some rough fossilized wood. I live in Monument.

      1. Hey Robin,

        A friend of mine has been collecting petrified wood from his land in Castle Rock/Parker area over the past few years. We have had a lot of questions pertaining to the wood… What kind of trees do they come from? Why are they all so different? Do differences come from differences in time or wood type?

        We could benefit from a little education on the topic and a geologist who seems interested in this field seems like the perfect person. He has cut and polished/tumbled a lot of his samples. Maybe we could get together for a little petrified wood party/education. Or, more simply, if you were willing, we could compile some questions for you to answer.

        Let me know what you think! We are dying to know.

        You rock!



  3. Does anyone know where one could go hunt for this on public land thanks ahead of time info would be greatly appreciated 🙂

  4. I collected about 75 lbs of this back in 1984 on a rancher’s land which is now covered by housing developments. I took my girlfriend and her family. We spend a couple of hours. I have enjoyed this wood over the years. I would add my own pictures if I knew how. I have a couple of very nice limb casts. Thanks for posting this. It is nice to see others enjoying the wood from this area.

    1. There are several different types found in the Parker area. Redwood, cedar, sycamore, palm, and others. The best way to identify what type you have is to polish a cross section and use a magnifying glass to compare the cell structure to known cell structures in modern trees. Many of the species that existed 60 million years ago have adapted, evolved, or no longer exist today.

        1. Hey Dave long time no hear I have some rare white sycamore wood with alot of color i got out of Parker as well.we need to link up for some digging again

Comments are closed.