A Journey Back in Time.
My intent was to spend most of the day in the park. The campground had a brochure and some additional info on the park, so I had a reasonable idea of where to go.
Upon entering the north end, the first attraction is the painted desert, which is just a short distance inside the park. Actually, this area is north of the freeway, and then you loop back over the freeway for the remainder of the park. You can’t really tell this area is here until you reach the bluff and then it just spreads out before you. It must have been quite the experience for early pioneers to come over the hill and see this. It has a very foreboding landscape, but beautiful all the same.
There are a few different lookout points along the way, so you get a little different angle at each one.
A few dinosaur bones have been found here also.
A brief diversion from the natural park area was the crossing of the old Route 66, which is depicted in the photos.
The other interesting feature of the park was the recognition of the early inhabitants at Puerco Pueblo and the uncovering of the petroglyphs on the rocks. They even had a way of identifying the summer solstice, which I tried to figure out. The best I could come up with was the circle with protruding fingers, sort of like a spinning disc. This was the only thing that I could see that may have imitated the sun. Anyway, there was also a slit between two rocks that produced a ray of sunlight that shone on this petroglyph, and when the sun was on the center of the “disc”, it identified to the day, the summer solstice. This was important to them insofar as the planting of their crops. Of course, I can’t imagine living in this environment. It must have been extremely harsh.
The Blue Mesa area was also quite intriguing, with all the different colors and layers of soil. One of the photos explains a little about this, as it’s too complicated for me to try in this venue. There was a mile long path that took you right down into the middle of this area, so you could get an “up close and personal” look at these formations. Although, I must say, the color distinctions were much easier seen from a distance.
Obviously, the other main attraction of the area is the petrified wood itself. The primary concentration was at the south end of the park, but there were pieces of it strewn all over the place in the park. It’s very interesting how the wood had become replaced with crystals. Essentially, when this area changed from being a rain forest, the trees became waterlogged and sunk to the bottom of whatever water source was there at the time. Over time, these logs became buried, and eventually, the water worked itself into the wood. The water carried silica and other minerals with it, and the wood fibers were eventually replaced with the various minerals, thus creating the petrified wood.
Then as time passed, the underlying earth began to rise, and brought the logs with it. Coupled with erosion from above, these logs eventually reached the surface and became exposed.
Again, I took way too many pictures, and I have tried to provide a representation of the various areas without getting too carried away.