If you search the internet for information on the DoBell Ranch you might start wondering if they still exist. That is what I wondered as we headed out the south exit of the Petrified Forest and made a right on to180 heading to Holbrook. I had tried the phone number listed at http://www.gotouraz.com/dobell and got a “non-working number” phone message. I had read on one message board there was nothing to find. Still, I held out hope and kept my eyes focus to the side of the road looking for the well worn Petrified Wood Museum sign, that was featured on McCrocks field trip page. I had read that it was about three miles to reach the ranch, but it seemed like it was taking forever, and I was fairly certain we had gone more than the three miles. Giving up on finding DoBell’s I increased my speed when we suddenly spotted the Museum sign on the north side of the road. Driving through the gate we decided it was best to turn right and head up a drive that was composed of old asphalt. The drive to the DeBall collecting site is another long drive as you literally end up at the edge of the Petrified Forest National Park. We learned later the asphalt road we had been on was the original entrance to the Petrified Forest before it became a national park.
When you arrive at the Museum you may not find anyone present. There are a few trailers and homes about, not all of them housing members of the DoBell family. If you are in luck you will see someone back in the pits. The collecting pits can be seen to the far left (south) as you stand in front of the Museum. If you can not spot anyone at the pits, then check out the buildings to the left (north east) of the main entrance. You should soon spot the Petrified Wood storage yard and be able to locate someone. So, what is collecting at the DoBell Ranch like? From what I have surmised it depends as to when you arrive. Dennis stated this was one of the best collecting experiences he had every been on. Petrified Wood was plentiful around the site, there were small pieces and large tree sections. I spend the day just picking up the more easily cartable stuff while Dennis worked hard on extracting a log still encased in the hard tuff. Another visitor reported the petrified wood was much more plentiful a month earlier. The owner is not always working the pit with the bulldozer, if you happen to arrive long after other’s have picked the site clean you will have a hard job extracting the petrified wood from the tuff.
During our visit the owner was working hard on the largest petrified tree trunk he had ever encounter. In the photo to the right you can see him working, clearing debris off the top of just one section of the tree. The bigger section is actually behind me and to the left, It looked to be 12 feet or more in diameter but most of it was still covered with tuff. I have no idea if he was successful at removing the logs with out them shattering.
There is a fee for collecting at the DoBell Ranch.
2016 update - on my 2nd visit to the DoBell ranch the pit had been picked fairly clean of petrified wood. In the Petrified Wood Storage Yard it appeared the owner had dumped several scoops of pit material for visitors to pick through, it was full of various sized pieces of petrified wood.
2018 update - it sounds like DoBell has open a new pit for visitors to collect directly from. They also have a new website and camping - Dobell Ranch website
Next - Micromounts
In early 2015 my friend Denise and I spend a day at the DoBell Ranch, each of us filling up a 5 gallon pail with colorful pieces of Petrified Wood.
updated in 2018
Field Collecting Dobell's Ranch
Worth the stop if you are in the area!