Tucked way up and away in the mountains of Calistoga’s wine country there lies a forest where redwood trees once grew and grew … until they turned to stone! The backstory: Some 3.5 million years ago Napa’s Mount Saint Helena erupted, its thick volcanic ashes pretty much swallowing nearby ancient redwoods, burying them. Fast-forward millions of years filled with natural processes, and the result is redwoods preserved to perfection—a petrified forest! Pristine redwoods have been excavated from the underworld and are on full, majestic display. These celebrated wonders are in many instances notable for their shimmering natural sparkle, massive fire-resistant trunks, and incredible detailing in the wood.
Visit the majestic grove on weekends and go on a half-mile self-guided tour through time, taking in the treasure of extraordinary redwoods on the Main Trail. You can extend the walk by another half mile on the Meadow Trail, which leads to a view of Mount Saint Helena. There’s also a fantastic, free docent-led tour three times a day on weekends—for a more in-depth and interesting perspective on the forest. And you thought only Medusa turned to stone. Turns out true beauties did, too!
GUEST HOUSE TIP: Calistoga’s Petrified Forest is home to a quaint guest cottage hidden in the trees near the head of the Sonoma and Napa Valleys.
BONUS WINE TASTING: There’s no shortage of tasting options in the area but one worth making a point to visit is the famous Chateau Montelena, where the Riesling and cabs know how to work a room!
Admission to the Petrified Forest is $12/adult. The main trail has the petrified exhibits. Go on a self-guided walk or a free docent-led tour (11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., or 3:00 p.m.). No dogs.