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The Buried Forest of Alaska's Kruzof Island: a Window into the Past

Seldom does one find a way to directly date a prehistoric volcanic eruption, but 11-year-old Blake LaPerriere opened such a door for excited scientists in Southeast Alaska.

Last September, Blake, his parents, and his younger brothers were exploring a beach on southwestern Kruzof Island, part of the Tongass National Forest landscape and just west of Sitka, Alaska, where they live. Blake investigated a deeply incised creek behind a pile of beach drift where he found a standing burnt tree embedded in a tall bank of pumice. He brought it to his family’s attention, asking “Do you think that’s from a volcanic eruption a long time ago?”

Curious, Blake’s father Zach took photos and sent them my way.

Buried Alive: The Petrifying True Story of a Forest Turned to Stone

Imagine nearing the remote, rugged crest of the Gallatin Range in Montana’s Gallatin National Forest. As you scramble up-slope, you put your hand against what appears to be a lightning-blasted stump for balance. But the stump is not weather-polished wood—it’s made of stone.

These are the 50-million-year-old remains of redwoods, pines and sycamores which make up the Gallatin Petrified Forest, where fossilized tree trunks are preserved in so much detail that cellular structures may be seen under a microscope and growth rings are often visible to the naked eye. But how did these trees turn to stone?

This Travel Season Take a Drive Through the Volcanoes

Welcome to the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All American Road.

This 500-mile byway celebrates the spectacular scenery of the volcanic landscapes between Lake Almanor in California and Crater Lake, Oregon.

Along this journey from volcano to volcano you’ll find opportunities for adventure, exploration, communion with nature and an appreciation for the culture and history of the region. You’ll also find residents eager to share the beauty and mystery of this land that is dotted with evidence of an eruptive past.