Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

//Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
On the upper left you can make out the former Painted Desert Inn, now a National Historic Landmark with exhibits on the buildings history, Petrified National Forest, Arizona

On the upper left you can make out the former Painted Desert Inn, now a National Historic Landmark with exhibits on the buildings’ history, Petrified National Forest, Arizona.

Our drive on Thursday from Santa Fe, NM, to Gallup, NM, was uneventful — no warning lights and no countdown to disaster. Β With less-than-perfectΒ weather forecasted for the coming weekend, we elected on Friday to drive the 70+ miles to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

The Painted Desert extends over 7,500 square miles of northeastern Arizona and at its heart lies the Petrified Forest National Park. Because of this, the many colors of the Painted Desert are visible throughout the National Park. During the Triassic Period, ancient “Arizona” was hot, humid, lush and green. But over the last 200 million years or so, drastic upheavals and change buried its plants and animal life. This was followed by an extended period of wind and water erosion providing a glimpse of the remains of the once tropical land.

We meandered along the 28-mile scenic roadway through the park, stopping at most of the provided pullovers and taking in some of scenic walks/hikes.

One of most beautiful hikes was at Blue Mesa, taking us along a steep one-mile trail down into vibrant badlands with colorful petrified wood.

Also, of historic note, Route 66 which stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles was one of the original highways in the US Highway System. Where it once cut through this park is marked on the scenic park road by a 1932 Studebaker.

National Parks welcome dogs so Maggie had a great day as well. On the way back to Gallup we took an indirect route which allowed us to view more of the surrounding areas in both Arizona and New Mexico.

Petrified wood, at the bottom of the blue badlands, Blue Mesa, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ.

Petrified wood, at the bottom of the blue badlands, Blue Mesa, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ.

These are but a few of the many photos I made during the day. I’m sure you’ll see some of the others posted in the future on this blog.


By | 2017-12-21T15:36:55+00:00 March 12th, 2016|Lifestyle / Travel / Living Lite|13 Comments

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  1. Steve Skinner 12 Mar ’16 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Beautiful images! We visited the park about 20 years ago; seeing the area today makes it difficult to believe that the region once was wetter and supported lush vegetation.

    • E. Brooks Moore 13 Mar ’16 at 9:40 am - Reply

      Yeah, Steve, it’s a big endorsement of how drastic change can be…even if it takes a few hundred million years! πŸ™‚

  2. Paul Maxim 13 Mar ’16 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Glad you got to walk through Blue Mesa. I think it’s the best part of the park. As many times as we’ve driven through I’ve never stopped to see the Studebaker! By the way, how many times did they ask you if you were carrying any petrified wood in your vehicle? And yet when you leave the park they barely glance at you. Still, we’ve never picked any up. And it would make such nice household decorations……

    • E. Brooks Moore 13 Mar ’16 at 9:55 am - Reply

      The Blue Mesa was definitely the highlight of the park but we enjoyed it all. There were few people visiting when we were there, which made it nice and easy to stop anywhere. The biggest headache was major repairs on one section of the scenic road, totally demolished, which was a bit of a wait for traffic. We were never asked or checked about having petrified wood. Bonnie picked a hand size piece up, I took a photo of her with it and then she put it back where it had been. Nope, didn’t take any…last thing we need is to be hauling rocks around in our coach. I hope you guys are having a great time in the southwest as well! πŸ™‚

      • oneowner 13 Mar ’16 at 5:57 pm - Reply

        I recall Lucille Ball collecting rocks in “The Long, Long Trailer” (1953). Of course, this was way, way before my time but I did manage to catch it on Turner Classic Movies.

        • E. Brooks Moore 13 Mar ’16 at 6:07 pm - Reply

          LOL And if I remember correctly, collecting rocks in the trailer didn’t work out so well on that mountain road.

  3. Monte Stevens 13 Mar ’16 at 9:14 am - Reply

    I may have an image of the Studebaker, at least I’ve seen it. I visited this area about 2 years ago and loved it. For some people it is desolate and find no beauty in it. But, nature is an open book if we take the time to look. I did not take the Blue Mesa walk but wish I had now. At one point I read where the theft of the petrified wood has left us with a rather small amount which saddened me. However, their beauty is something you want to hang on to or take with you. And, yes many of them were removed only for the profit. Glad you enjoyed your time and looks like a good day for it.

    • E. Brooks Moore 13 Mar ’16 at 10:09 am - Reply

      The Blue Mesa walk is definitely worth the effort. I guess as individuals people don’t think taking their one little piece of petrified wood makes a difference but it all adds up…that’s true about individual actions in anything isn’t it…from protecting the environment to voting in politics. What we do as individuals counts for something and adds up. I thought it ironic, just outside of the park, there are souvenir shops with thousands of petrified wood pieces for sale…at a costly price. Now where did they get theirs at? πŸ™‚

  4. Mark 13 Mar ’16 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    What an amazing place of textures and color! Otherworldly almost. Great photos Brooks.

  5. Paul 14 Mar ’16 at 6:52 am - Reply

    Nice adventures, Brooks. You’re reawakening the travel bug in me and giving me come cool places to add to my list! Please send money! πŸ™‚

    • E. Brooks Moore 14 Mar ’16 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Paul! I’ll tell you what, you come on out to the Petrified Forest National Park and well let you use our Old-Farts National Parks Lifetime Pass. Just as good as money! πŸ™‚

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