Billboard for Wild Bill.

Wild Bill - 2.9 Million Year Old Alligator

Field review by the editors.

Holbrook, Arizona

What's a monster alligator doing in the deserts of Arizona?

According to a couple of billboards, Wild Bill -- a fossilized alligator skeleton in a slab of rock -- is the featured attraction at Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Co., which occupies a prime piece of real estate just outside of Holbrook, Arizona, on the road to Petrified National Forest.

Lovers of petrified wood don't need Wild Bill to want to stop here. There is an extensive collection of polished wood on exhibit (the free "museum"), and petrified wood products of every shape and size for sale. Jim Gray's has sold wood to the Smithsonian, the White House, and museums all over the world, and its yard has so much of the stuff that it could probably build its own petrified forest.

Wild Bill alligator fossil.

Jim's wife, who runs the gift shop, told us that tourists on their way to the National Forest always ask: "Are the trees standing?" and "How did you get all this wood out of the park?"

Getting anything out of the Park is unlikely. Helicopters patrol for petrified wood thieves and the perimeter fence has motion sensors. This has no effect on the Gray's business. "The truth is, there's more petrified wood outside the park than in it," they told us.

By the way, the trees in the Park are not standing.

And Wild Bill? He was named for a family friend. The Grays bought him in Florida as a tourist magnet. It worked on us.

The Museum.

Wild Bill - 2.9 Million Year Old Alligator

Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Co.

US Hwy 180, Holbrook, AZ
Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Co. I-40 exit 286, head south. South edge of town, where Hwy 77 and US 180 split, southeast corner.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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