Photo: Einstein tours fossilized trees at Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona), 1931.

Credit: Petrified Forest Ranger, flickr.

We were digging through photos taken in national parks and wildlands recently and came across this gem: Albert Einstein and his wife during a tour of Arizona’s famous Petrified Forest.

This particular photo was taken on a trip in 1931. The legendary physicist left such an impact on the region that a historic hotel in the nearby town of Winslow named one of its rooms after him. It should come as no surprise that Einstein’s love of science was complemented by an appreciation for the wilderness. A quote attributed to the iconic thinker says it all: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Petrified Forest National Park is filled with fossils, most notably the colorful remains of scattered tree trunks that have become hard quartz over millions of years of geological upheaval. This led to its protection by President Theodore Roosevelt as a national monument under the Antiquities Act in 1906 (it became a national park in 1962). Set amid spectacular eroding badlands, the park, which was recently expanded by thousands of acres and contains two wilderness areas, represents one of America’s truly unique natural landmarks. It doesn’t take a genius to appreciate that.

Credit: Petrified Forest NPS, flickr.

Credit: Petrified Forest NPS, flickr.

See more historic photos from Petrified Forest National Park

Read about other surreal spots throughout the country