Saturday, May 11, 2013

Petrified Forest/Painted Desert

Yesterday we drove through Petrified Forest National Park, including the Painted Desert.  Trisha had been there 50 years ago with her family, so it was fun for her to try to remember what she had seen then vs. now.  Some things had definitely changed or been added, she said.  But it was just spectacular!  It's awesome to see these huge logs, lying on the group, some cut up as if they had been cutting them for firewood, and others just scattered all around the ground.  Not sure if all of them were down where they had been standing originally or not.  Millions of years ago, there was once a massive river where now is the canyon floor, and apparently many trees were brought down by a flood and ended up in places in sort of a massive logjam.  Then, various silicas and other minerals, along with the water, filled up the pores and cells in the trees and gradually they turned to stone.  Then, as the national park was just being set up, many people came in and began cutting the massive logs, to take out the petrified wood, so they instituted the prohibition against removing any of it from the national park lands--enforced by very heavy fines--which was probably the deterrent Trisha needed to keep her from her desire to pick up some rocks to bring back for the labyrinth!  But we visited a rock place before going into the park and were able to get some good specimens from there, where they get their petrified wood only from private land.  And they wrapped it up and told us to be sure and tell the ranger when we entered the park that we had bought some from him.  Sure enough, when we entered the park, the ranger asked us if we had any petrified wood, and when we told her where we had gotten it, she asked if it were wrapped up, and she said fine, as they do spot inspections of vehicles when you're leaving the park to make sure you haven't purloined any from the park itself.

Anyway, I have to repeat my oft said mantra that none of these pictures really give you the full view we had in person, but I'll just let these pictures speak for themselves from here on out.  It was gorgeous, and we made the drive from south to north through the park, so we ended up with the Painted Desert, for which I'm really glad, as it was just an amazing finish to this experience.  Then, as we drove on west toward Flagstaff, all of a sudden we were out of the desert and started seeing lots of trees!  It struck us as so unusual, since we had been in desert for so long we weren't used to seeing this many trees.  Made it to Williams last night, and today we'll take the train to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

This is at the rock shop before we went into the park.  Sign said it takes days to cut through a log this size with a diamond carbide blade, and weeks to polish the surface to a sheen.

 Beautiful table made from petrified wood
 Some fossils on display.
 The alligator fossil is not from this area, but most of the other things are.

Large log on first trail near visitors center
 Close up of log pieces
 View of the mountain range in the distance through two pieces of log
 Interesting layes of rock, including sandstone, and pieces of petrified wood
 These layers of different colors were just beautiful

 Log pieces in foreground, sandstone formation behind

Interesting formations

And in the midst of this arid desert, a flower blooms

reconstruction of one of the rooms of a 7 room pueblo, the original of which was estimated to be 10,000 years old.  reconstruction done out of pieces of petrified rock and mortar
 Window into the room, you can see the ladder coming out of the roof area

 If you enlarge this, you can read some of the story board about the house
A little friend we met along the trail

 Beautiful layers of different colors
 Looks sorta like sand castles we made at the beach, huh?

 Some more views as we drove along the road through the park

Fascinating petroglyphs--these from an area nicknamed Newspaper Rock, since it obviously tells many stories.  Trisha, of course, loved the spirals!

As we walked back to the parking lot from Newspaper Rock, encountered this raven, sitting on a car.
 Since the raven was obviously talking, had to get closer to hear what he was saying--not sure, but sounded an awful lot like "Nevermore . . ."
Remains of the Puerca Pueblo

 Remains of a kiva, the sacred space for religious worship
 Above:  story board explaining how the prehistoric people used the sun and these pictographs to determine the timing of the seasonal changes, in order to know how to order their lives, such as crop planting, harvesting, etc.--don't know if you can get the above shot enlarged clearly enough to read, but it shows how the sun coming through a crevice in the rock cast a beam of light toward the spiral pictoglyph, and how it gets closer to the spiral as it approaches the summer solstice-just amazing!

Below:  you can see the spiral on the left side of the rock, with footprints on the right
 Close up of the spiral
 Timing wasn't right for us to see what's depicted on the story board, but the shaft of light would be like a line down toward the spiral
Other pictoglyphs near the Puerca Pueblo

 This one looks for all the world like a stork carrying a baby!!
These next shots are of the first overlook in the Painted Desert--it was fascinating to see how quickly the colors change with the passing of clouds in front of the sun

We thought for sure that we were going to get wet, as these clouds looked full of rain, but it never came.

 Below:  this is actually 7 miles away!  Amazing how far you can see out here

Painted Destert Inn, along the drive

 Shot from the overlook by the Inn, in the distance you can see the tops of the San Francisco Mountains, 120 miles away!
 San Francisco Peak, as we got much closer to Flagstaff.


  1. I am looking forward to this part of your trip.

    By the way Doug (brother) lives in Mesa where he works in a transitional living center that helps men rebuild their lives after getting out of prison. He has been doing this for over 25 years.


  2. Rod, that's great work your brother has been doing--making a difference, one life at a time! We've realized that there is so much more to see in Arizona and New Mexico than we've seen so far, so we'll be coming back after we visit friends in Utah.