Big Guy & Little Debbie Discovering America travel blog

Entering park

View of Painted Desert

another view

Painted Desert Inn - Stopping spot for travelers on Old Rte 66

Puerco Pueblo area

remains of 100 room pueblo

Tepee Area

Badlands along Blue Mesa trail

another view of the Badlands with petrified wood exposed

Overlook of Blue Mesa trail through the badlands

Large pieces of petrified logs in the Crystal Forest area

close up of very colorful petrified log

We crossed the border of New Mexico and Arizona Tuesday morning (11/10) and stopped in Sun Valley, AZ. for the day.

Wednesday, we went to explore the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. This park was discovered in the mid 1800's by government mappers. After people started removing the petrified wood, local residents recognized the supply was not endless. As a result in 1906 the area was declared a national monument. In 1962 the entire area was made a National Park.

After viewing a short information video at the visitors center, we started our self guided 28 mile tour. Our first of several stops were areas to view the Painted Desert. This area resembled the Grand Canyon, but not as deep. The colors of the different terrain was incredible. The pictures that we took just does not do the beauty justice. We stopped at the Painted Desert Inn, which was a rebuilt structure with incredible views of the painted desert. The Painted Desert derives its name for the many colors ranging from purple to shades of gray with bright colors of red, orange and pink. It is a large area of badland hills and buttes, a beautiful landscape of a rainbow of colors.

Within the Painted Desert is the "Petrified Forest". Our first stop in the Petrified Forest was the "Puerco Pueblo" trail. In this area we saw the remains of a 100 room pueblo built between 1250-1400 A.D.. This building may have housed 1200 people. We also observed several Petroglyph in the area as well. A short drive down the road was "Newspaper Rock", an overlook where hundreds of Petroglyphs were etched into a large stone. We drove through the "Tepees", an area of layered blue, purple and grey cone cone shaped formations. The next stop was the "Blue Mesa" area. A 3 mile loop road with views of badlands and log falls. We decided to take a 1 mile hike, down into the badland area. This trail went through petrified wood deposits and badland hills. Words and pictures cannot describe how incredible this area was. We continued on to "Jasper Forest" a high rocky bluff that looked down upon hundreds of petrified logs strewn across the valley. "Crystal Forest" was the next stop. This was a 0.8 mile trail through hundreds of very colorful petrified logs that once held amethyst and quartz. A lot of these semi-precious gems were stolen, before this area was protected. Even today an estimated one ton of petrified wood is removed(stolen) every month. Our final stop was the "Giant Logs" trail, a 0.4 mile loop which is home to park's largest log known as "Old Faithful".

The day brought more to us than we expected. As stated earlier, words and pictures cannot describe the beauty and history of this natural ancient land.

Remember to go to our Picasa site to view more pictures.

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