Petrified Forest in Sonoma County going up for sale with $12 million asking price

It is one of the North Bay’s oldest tourist attractions and has been entertaining and educating visitors for more than a century.|

A unique 500-acre property is hitting the market in eastern Sonoma County, close to Calistoga. The parcel in question is on Petrified Forest Road. Which makes sense, because it’s the Petrified Forest.

One of the North Bay’s oldest tourist attractions, the Petrified Forest, has been entertaining and educating visitors for more than a century. But the family that has owned it since 1914 is letting the site go. Their asking price: $12 million.

The property, set in steep terrain in the oak woodland, includes a working gift shop (with upstairs living quarters), cafe (with small attached bedroom), guesthouse and “party barn” — in all, about 8,200 square feet of interior space. It is being listed by Healdsburg Realty and Artisan Sotheby's International Realty. The property also includes about a mile of Porter Creek.

The real estate offices say the Petrified Forest welcomes some 30,000 visitors annually.

What brings those customers is an ancient forest of felled redwood trees, taken to the ground by a massive volcanic explosion approximately 3.4 million years ago. The trees were buried under thick layers of volcanic ash, creating an oxygen-free environment that eliminated the bacteria that usually decompose organic matter. Over thousands of years, minerals replaced water in the cells of the trunks, creating massive, rock-hard fossils.

The redwoods are believed to be the largest petrified trees in the world. There are petrified pines and oaks on the property, too.

None of that was part of recorded history until 1870, when a Swedish homesteader named Charles Evans discovered the top of a log while raking his pasture. Paleontologists and paleobotanists followed, and so did commerce. It’s now a registered historic landmark.

A woman named Ollie Bockee purchased the site in 1914 and created a place for scientific discovery, preservation and hokey charm. Now her descendants are saying it’s time to leave the forest behind.

You can reach Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or On Twitter @Skinny_Post.

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