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Posts Tagged ‘Painted Desert’

Hearing about the Painted Desert, I imagined a wildly colorful landscape. What I found was a gorgeous, subtle beauty that shifted with the light. The time we spent visiting the Petrified Forest National Park was a lesson in the delicacy of the desert palette.

Painted Desert

Over 225 million years ago, this area was part of a vast floodplain where huge conifer trees grew. They were washed into streams and covered with a mix of silt, mud and volcanic ash which slowed the logs decay. Silica-laden groundwater seeped into the logs and crystallized, preserving the logs as petrified wood. Tons of this wood was hauled away before the park was established and even today visitors to the park steal pieces of the wood, in spite of the many warnings and heavy fines.

Giant logs, fields full of scattered pieces, even a restored pueblo made of petrified wood were all there to explore.

Giant Logs of Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood Everywhere

Agate House

Agate House Wall

The petrified wood was very cool, but Blue Mesa trail was my favorite hike at the park. This trail wound around beautiful badland hills in a way that gave you a true feeling of the landscape that you cannot get from overlooks.

Looking Up to the Blue Mesa Trail Starting Point

Blue Mesa Trail

We pretty much had the park to ourselves.

Lone Backpack

Black Iconoclast

With the exception of the black crow, everything at the park adhered to the understated desert color scheme.

Even man-made objects at the park blended in. The bridge in the following photo almost disappears into the landscape.

Can You Find the Bridge?

Restrooms Blend In

We traded Zen-like serenity for Route 66 kitsch in Holbrook. Back in the day, before Interstate 40 was built, vacationing families traveled Route 66 and enjoyed the more exciting features on offer at the many rock shops, restaurants and motels.

Dinos

Joe and Aggies on Route 66

Our Wigwam

Ranchwagon at the Wigwam

Our room at the Wigwam was very cozy and the not so distant train whistles lulled us to sleep.

Cozy Bed at the Wigwam

Richard captured the Wigwam essence in these night photos.

Wigwam Neon photo by Richard

Wigwam at Night photo by Richard

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