Our drive on Thursday from Santa Fe, NM, to Gallup, NM, was uneventful — no warning lights and no countdown to disaster. With less-than-perfect 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.
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.