Saturday, October 23, 2010

Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park, AZ


We spent the past 2 nights at Root 66 RV Park near Holbrook, AZ to visit Petrified Forest National Park. This may be one of the worst RV parks we’ve stayed at yet, due to the close proximity to I-40, and just the overall look of the place. But it is the nearest campground to the national park, and they honor the Passport America discount, which made it $14.50 per night for water and electric. This was our view yesterday, but we moved to a site behind the falling down old motel, which got us away from the road noise that kept us awake much of the night. This is one place we won’t stay at again.


We thought the rain and thunderstorms we had our last night in NM were going to be past us by yesterday, but we were wrong. Since we knew we couldn’t tolerate another night here, we drove to the Petrified Forest yesterday afternoon, anyway. Too bad it wasn’t sunny, because it would have made for nice photos.
The national park encompasses two large areas, the northern section being the Painted Desert, and the southern section is the Petrified Forest. We first stopped at the Visitor Center, then began the drive through the Painted Desert.


We hiked a trail which led to the Painted Desert Inn, originally built in the early 1920’s, and restored several times over the years. It is no longer a working inn and restaurant, but was declared a National Historic site in 1967. It is a lovely building with wonderful views.


Unfortunately, we got rained on walking the trail back to the car, and the temperature dropped to 52. Since it looked like rain when we left, I ‘m not sure why we didn’t think to bring our rain gear, but we didn’t. Wet, cold jeans are not the most comfortable thing to be wearing, and they don’t dry out very quickly.
Continuing on the scenic drive, we came upon a tribute to Route 66, which used to run through the park. The line of telephone poles is where the road once was.



We also got to see the ruins of Puerco Pueblo, and lots of petroglyphs, probably done by the Anasazis anywhere from 300 - 1,200 years ago.


This is Newspaper Rock, containing hundreds of petroglyphs on a huge rock.


Our favorite was this one on the trail sign, but we couldn’t find the original on the rocks. Is it depicting a stork bringing a baby to it’s mother, or a big bad bird stealing the baby away from her?


The rain let up and the sun started peeking through a little bit as we made our way into the Petrified Forest. We stopped at several trails but didn’t go far since it was so cold and we were so wet. In fact, Jim and Debbie stayed in the car most of the time while I went out to take pictures. I must admit, I didn’t think I would find the petrified trees so fascinating, but I was truly amazed.


This is a petrified tree bridge, which was reinforced with concrete many years ago.


Chunks of petrified wood were just scattered about everywhere. The process of the trees turning to fossils took place about 225 million years ago.





The rest of these pictures were taken from the Crystal Forest trail. The crystals in the centers of the trees were incredible.








We definitely want to come back here again on a sunny day, as there was so much more to see. We’re heading off for Williams, AZ this morning, for a quick visit to the Grand Canyon.
I also found this plant off one of the trails. I spent way too much time doing a Google search trying to identify it, but to no avail. If anyone reading this post is familiar with it, I’d appreciate you letting me know.




  1. I haven't checked your blog for ages, it's hard to be in one place again and suddenly SO much busier; tough not to have envy!
    We loved the Petrified Forest, the colors of the 'wood' were too beautiful and the inn was so neat - oh, we need to be back on the road again....soon, maybe :)

  2. Hi Ali. good to hear from you. Wondered what you were up to since the last post on your blog was from August. Hope you can get back on the road one of these days,


  3. Looks like sweet pea?

    Enjoying your blog. We are on a 3 year countdown and can't wait to get out west. :-)

  4. MaryAnne and Keith,

    Thanks. It sort of looks like sweet pea but that doesn't grow wild in the AZ desert. I'm still searching.

    You will love the west!


  5. I haven't had the heart to finish it to the point when we returned to PA; it makes it seem so final :( I have journaled in word though, so really just need to paste it in there. We don't want to forget a single moment; it was such a fantastic year. We would love to get back on the road and head to Alaska but the little ones went back to school this year and the older two are home, so we'll reassess in May....we're thinking maybe Spring/Summer of 2012 if everyone homeschools next school year.
    In the meantime, we'll continue to live vicariously through all those families still journeying around, yay for blogs!