28 September 2010

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

28 Sep 2010--Arrived in Holbrook, AZ yesterday afternoon, staying at a small RV Park just till Wednesday morning when we will head for Albuquerque for a couple days.

We stopped here to go to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, a place Marie's friend from school, Linda, had told us about it. She had been here before and recommended it, so seeing as we were going in this direction, we decided to check it out.

A 28 mile road runs thru the park, where it seems the majority of it is Painted Desert, followed by the last few miles that are a combo of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. What is surprising is how normal so much of the park looks. As you are driving around you probably have one of these scenes on your right...

While you would have one of these scenes on your left. Check out these stitch pics!

Whether pink, black or white with green thrown in, the landscape is incredibly colorful.

Like the area in South Dakota that goes by the name, this area is considered to be "badlands"...they say they even have them in Pakistan, although those badlands are millions of years younger than ours.
They found dinosaur bones here as recently as 1984.

I took these 3 pics so you could see how the colors of the landscape could change dramatically in a very small span of space. You are basically looking, left to right, at 3 successive pics that go from black to pink.

Here they explain that the pink layers we are looking at are about 225 million years old, while the black top layer is "only" 5-8 millions old.

Right in the middle of the park they have this "Route 66" display. They talk about Americans travelling cross country, experiencing different cultures and lifestyles...I think that is as true today as it was 50 years ago!

There are ruins here that are very much like the places we saw in Mesa Verde Nat'l Park, but not anywhere near extensive. People lived here back in the 1200-1300s.
And like the petroglyphs we saw outside Canyonlands Nat'l Park, these people left behind a lot of drawings...something like 650 in this area of the park alone.

You can clearly see a petrified tree amongst these rocks...The 2nd pic is a close-up of it in the 1st pic. There are more rocks coming up, so I will explain here how this process happens. Over 200 million years ago, when the trees fell, they were washed into an adjacent floodplain. A mix of silt, mud, and volcanic ash buried the logs. That sediment cut off oxygen and slowed the logs decay. Silica-laden groundwater then seeped thru the logs and replaced the original wood tissues with silica deposits. Eventually the silica crystallized into quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood. (I copied all that info...didn't know it off the top of my head! haha)

Here are a few more pics of the Painted Desert as we drove past it.

And here are a bunch of rocks that used to be trees! They are incredibly colorful, and some of them still look like trees. Marie, I am sure Emily would love these, they are really beautiful up close.

Here is a great example...the rock in the 1st pic is really a rock...even looks like a rock...until you go to either end...especially in the 3rd pic where you can actually see the tree rings.

In this 1st pic you can see logs up on the ridge. In the 2nd it looks like someone cut up a bunch of trees and threw them in the valley. And the 3rd pic shows what is now a beautifully colored rock just off the side of the road.

By the way, it is illegal to take even a chip of these rocks/trees out of the park. There is a ranger station at the exit that can stop you to search your car if they choose to.

They had observation points off the side of the road, and several places where you could go for short hikes as long as you stayed on the paved road.

Driving out of the park, just 2 interesting pics. Doesn't the 2nd pic look like a man's face on the upper, left of it?
This was a really interesting park, bewteen all the different colors in the badlands, the petrified trees, Route 66, ruins and petroglyphs, there was a good mix of stuff going on that kept you surprised as you progressed thru it. My favorite parts were the pink/white/black hills of the Painted Desert, but the whole thing was quite interesting.


  1. NH called, they want their Old Man of the Mountain back. Now we know where it went.

    It looks a bit moon scapish (spell check says that isn't a word, but I don't care)

    The rock/trees are cool

    Cathy looks like the lonely traveler along the long winding road.......

  2. there you go again, being a daredevil, standing ontop of that big ol skinny mountain. just can't get enough of trying to scare me. huh.

  3. See I told u that u couldn't take any rocks out!

  4. Hi Paula and Kathy,
    so I tried to post a comment again and lost it, probably because it was a short story so I will try to condense what I had said. I have totally enjoyed seeing your pictures and sharing your adventures. Loved seeing the Grand Canyon again and feeling very lucky that I got to see the real thing and experience the majesty of it all. Once again I have to say how jealous I am and how lucky you guys are to have the time to do this. I have to admit that we were some of those fools that went over the railing for photo op, very carefully but maybe a little stupid!! Aw well, you only live once!! Love seeing Angel's View at the North Rim, one of my favorite spots! I'm glad you enjoyed the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Dan and Jen (the oldest) are sort of geology freaks and loved all that "millions of year ago" stuff. If you are heading to New Mexico are you planning on stopping at Carlsbad Caverns...the flight of the bats at dusk is pretty cool. This is where we met John Benjamin, a park ranger that had worked at the Heights. I think I saw that you were heading to San Antonio. My relatives live in New Braunfels, if you meet any McDonalds they could be related!!

  5. We really enjoyed the park also. Your right the colors are more vivid in person then in the photo's but you did a wonderful job showing the different areas. We leave Friday for a month and hope you and Cathy will save some time to stop and hang with us for a little while. Check it out on the web site www.bigchiefrvresort.com. Let us know if you are thinking of making a detour before hitting SA.

  6. Hi guys, after reading every bodies comments I have
    nothing to say. But if I did I would have said,
    the comment about the Old Man on the Mountain, and absolutely would have had something to say about Cathy on the "big ole skinny mountain".
    But I can't because somebody else already said it!!! haha
    Pictures are great!!!!

  7. Ellen and Barb, Brian mentioned the Ole Man in the Mountain in an e-mail...so all 3 of you were on the same page.

    Hallie, I realy wanted to steal a rock for Emily, but I was afraid of getting caught! haha

    Linda, glad you're enjoying and reminiscing (sp?), and we are not going to Carlsbad Caverns on this trip, but plan to go next time we go west from San Antonio. You say you only live once, but going out on those rocks seem to be asking for it sooner rather than later! haha

    Carol, Cathy and I are checking to see if we can stop with you guys on the way in to San Antonio...I will call you soon.

  8. Emily says: The old man on the mountain in the last pic "looks like a man that lives in the jungle".
    Where did you get all my rocks? They look just like the pictures you took. The words in this blog are hard to understand but I really liked all the picturs.
    I love my birthday rocks. Thank you very much, Cathy and Paula,
    Lots of love, Emily
    Miss you