The ParkEscalante Petrified Forest State Park
is well signposted and is reached by a side road just outside town, forking off scenic highway 12; this crosses an agriculturalized valley heading towards a line of low cliffs, beneath which are the campground and administration buildings, all close to the edge of the reservoir - built in 1954, this has become an important wetland bird habitat, a rare occurence in southern Utah. Fishing, boating and swimming are permitted; paddle boards, kayaks and canoes may be rented. The entrance fee (2016) is $8 per vehicle.
The one mile, well maintained Petrified Forest Trail
climbs steeply by 250 feet, up the slope behind the camping area and along a little ravine to the pine and juniper-covered plateau above, where it forks, at the start of a loop. Right (east) is the recommended direction to continue, across flat land dotted with basalt boulders, past a few small petrified logs, while numbered signs reference other points of interest. The plateau is home to various wildflowers, mostly species in the borage
family. Towards the far side of the mesa, the 0.75 mile Trail of Sleeping Rainbows
branches off, signed 'very steep'; named after the native Fremont Indian description of this region, this rather more impressive trail passes many more petrified wood pieces, larger and more colorful. The trail descends by 200 feet, down one narrowish ravine and up another, passing dozens of logs up to 15 feet long and 5 feet wide, mixed with the basalt boulders. The fossils are still not in general quite as brightly colored as those of the national park in Arizona but are still very pretty; larger and more mineralized than the other deposits in the Escalante region, such as along Wolverine Creek. Both parks have similar cautionary tales about the ill fortune that befalls those who illegally remove samples, with a collection of letters sent from remorseful visitors. The northernmost part of the Trail of Sleeping Rainbows reaches the brink of a pour-off, overlooking a grassy valley in the middle of the state park, after which the route soon returns to the top of the plateau, and ends at a second junction with the Petrified Forest Trail, which continues west, passing rather more petrified logs than on the outwards section, back to the junction near the start, overlooking the reservoir.