Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

The pyramid in the painted desert.

The pyramid in the painted desert.

We made an early stop before starting our visit to the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.  That stop was a rock and gem store on the road to the National Parks.  Of course, we had a coupon for a free 1/2 pound of Petrified wood – being a senior this is a great draw.  They had a wonderful selection of all kind of rocks, fossils and gems.  We started out with one piece of petrified wood and ended up with three then moved on to peridot, obsidian, rose quartz and geodes.  Luckily we were able to carry it out to the truck on our own.  It reminded us of an “I Love Lucy” show where  Lucy picks up pieces of rock at each stop on a cross country trip until the trailer got so heavy it was almost impossible to pull.  LOL


Entire petrified trees lie along the roadways.

On to the Petrified Forest, where we stopped at the visitor center on the southern end of the park for a film on the park.  We learned that over 200 million years ago logs were brought down into a great floodplain where they became mired, water logged, sank and covered in layers of silt, mud and volcanic ash. This cut off oxygen to the logs and allowed silica to penetrate the wood, replacing the tissue, petrifying the logs.  Over time, wind and water wore away the rock layers, exposing the petrified logs.  The colorful patterns are from the various minerals in the silica-saturated water.  It is amazing to walk around the park viewing logs laying in the fields and along the road as we drove to the various turnouts along the way.  Erosion continues to change the shape of the park as it uncovers new logs and undermines others to fall and disintegrate on the valley floor.

Petrified Wood looking like any other rock.

Petrified Wood looking like any other rock.

As we drive north the landscape changes and we pick up brightly colored cliffs layered in different colors over the ages.  This is the transition to the painted desert where sands of various colors where collected for sand paintings and pottery.  Along the way at “Newspaper Rock” we saw, from a far, petroglyphs used to leave messages for those that followed.  We left the area at sunset with the light leaving the cliffs and muting the colors.

One last point of interest was “Route 66” which passed through this area at the midway point.  You can still see the telephone poles going off in the distance but sadly the road is now nearly completely gone, replaced by Interstate 40.  As we drove past the mile marker, we broke out in song,  “We get our kicks on Route 66…”  That’s all we sang because neither of us could remember the rest of the words”!

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4 Responses to Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

  1. Actually, I think it was “The Long, Long Trailer”. Anyway – I have an original Route 66 sign from that section of highway we passed through in 1965 on my way to L.A. and on to U of Hawaii.

  2. …and I can’t remember the name of some woman I worked with for ten years when I run into her at the store. That’s scary!

  3. U r correct. How do you remember all this stuff? We were in second grade!

  4. Love the commentary! I remember watching that movie (“The Long Trailer” maybe?) when we were in Neosho, Mo

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