Many Visitors Learn To Regret ‘Curse’ Of Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Oct 31, 2020, 3:16 PM | Updated: 3:23 pm

ESCALANTE, Utah – Halloween will be a bit different in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic and health department recommendations to socially distance and avoid large crowds. In Garfield County, it’s the same as it has been for years.

We’re not talking about trick-or-treating. We’re talking about a state park, where you shouldn’t take anything – or else.

KSL TV visited Escalante Petrified Forest State Park with the scary warning, good for any time of the year.

There are some places in Utah so beautiful and so special you almost want to take a piece of it home with you.

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Garfield County is one of those places.

Petrified wood that has been mineralized into rocks for millions of years is the main attraction, bringing in visitors from all around the world.

What’s not hard to believe is that some visitors actually do take a piece home.

Jamie Skidmore is a manager with Utah State Parks, and understands why some people would take a piece of petrified wood.

“They’re beautiful,” she says. “Some of them are really quite spectacular.”>

It’s an issue park managers wish wouldn’t happen, because as people take the petrified wood, that means less rocks for future visitors to enjoy.

“Those are the pieces that nobody else is ever going to see, because chances are they’re hiding in somebody’s closet in a rock box somewhere,” says Skidmore.

There are even signs warning visitors the park is under video surveillance, and to not collect anything.

Some visitors may think taking one little piece won’t do any harm. Skidmore says that’s not the case.

“Eventually there are no pieces left for anybody to see,” she says.

That may be why some visitors who took rocks send them back with letters saying “sorry.”

“I would say there’s probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 to 100 letters,” Skidmore says.

She says many of the letter say people felt guilty for taking the stones. Guilt can be a powerful motivator. So can fear of the “curse.”

“It’s amazing how many of them actually know about this curse,” Skidmore says.

The legend goes, that if you take a piece of petrified wood from the area, you get cursed.

“I think it’s pretty widely known in Escalante that there is an associated curse,” Skidmore says.

Many visitors don’t know about it until they read about the curse at the visitors center and still take a rock, thinking there’s no way.

However, in most of the letters they became believers once they got home.

“The guy says, ‘I’m not superstitious, but I’ve noticed since I took these stones, the coin has flipped to the bad side a lot more than it’s flipped to the good,’” Skidmore says about one letter.

Another letter from a visitor says he had the worst year of his life after taking some rocks.

Some letters are downright tragic.

“One of them was about a woman who picked up a few pieces. Her daughter was returning them. She had gotten terminal cancer,” she says.

All the letters that come with the stolen rocks ask park rangers to please put them back where they belong. One rock was 30 pounds that a guy bought from another visitor after seeing it on a trail.

“The letter that came basically said, ‘It is worth it to me to have paid for it, and paid for the shipping to get it back to you, so I do not experience the curse,’” Skidmore says.

The park has even received letters from some people saying after they returned those petrified rocks, their good luck came back.

“(For them, it’s) kind of an indicator that if you do something you shouldn’t, and you make it right, that your luck will return,” she says.

Even with all those letters and stories, does Skidmore believes in the curse?

“Ummm, you know – I don’t know if I do, but I haven’t taken any of the rocks, so I haven’t experienced the bad luck,” she says.

That may be the best advice of all – don’t take anything from the park and it won’t take anything from you.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Outdoors & Adventure

Enjoying the outdoors can take special skills, but a new program hopes to educate more Utahns so th...
Karah Brackin

‘Becoming Outdoor Women’ aims to empower Utah women with outdoor skills

Through “Becoming Outdoor Women,” a nonprofit educational program new to the state, the goal is for Utah women to develop confidence in those skills and, in turn, themselves.
1 day ago
Tuffy (the dog) gazing up at the Milky Way over Metate Arch in Grand Staircase-Escalante National M...
Brooke Williams

Free-entry to all national parks and monuments Saturday

National Parks free entry on September 24.
7 days ago
Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

Hanksville looking ahead to growth 1 year after devastating flash floods

It started with a simple idea: Why not live and work where you love?
27 days ago
There are five kinds of rattlesnakes that populate Utah (DWR)...
Shara Park and Larry D. Curtis, KSL TV

Utahns experiencing close encounters of the rattlesnake kind

As you make plans to head to the great outdoors this holiday weekend, you may want to heed the warning about rattlesnakes.
3 months ago
FILE: The sun sets over Canyonlands National Park. (Ken Fall)...
JOHN FLESHER AP Environmental Writer

Federal agencies reverse Trump limits on habitat protection in Endangered Species Act

The Biden administration is dropping a rule adopted under former President Donald Trump that limited which lands and waters could be designated as critical habitat for imperiled animals and plants.
3 months ago
red flag warning Utah...
Larry D. Curtis

Fire, wind and heat warnings issued for much of Utah

At temperatures jumped significantly from Wednesday to Thursday, much of the state is under warnings for high wind, excessive heat and high fire danger.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Many Visitors Learn To Regret ‘Curse’ Of Escalante Petrified Forest State Park