Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park 2017

Today Northern Arizona has a desert climate.   But it wasn’t always that way.  During the Triassic Period, 225 million years ago, this was a tropical landscape with abundant vegetation. Also home to early dinosaurs and reptiles while the rivers supported fish, clams, snails and crayfish and giant conifer trees reached 180 feet to the sky.   Trees fell in the rivers.   Soon they became covered with silt, volcanic ash and minerals, which prevented decay.   The wood became saturated with minerals.   Silica crystals replaced the wood.   Now we have petrified logs here, in northern Arizona at the Petrified Forest National Park.

Petrified Forest National Park

The is reputed to be one of the best areas for petrified wood in the world.  We visited here in March 2016, but like so many places, it is worth another visit.   The weather is warmer now, but it is still windy and many clouds in the sky.   This year we visited the Painted Desert section of the park first.   The colors of the desert are spectacular.

Painted desert

We stopped at most of the lookout points along the way.   We enter the historic Paint Desert Inn.

Painted Desert Inn

This inn is on the National Historic Landmark List.   The kitchen is still used.


Passing through the kitchen we admire the desert views from a lounging area.   Aren’t these hand painted ceiling tiles beautiful?

These ceiling tiles are beautiful with the old wooden beams.

And the old wooden beams are gorgeous.   This petroglyph look familiar.


We stopped at the Painted Desert gift shop and information center.   A copy of this petroglyph is proudly displayed in the plaza between the buildings.  The summer tourist season is here, so the ice cream shop is open.

Ice cream. Always good

We love ice cream.   And, yes, those are gummy worms on the ice cream.   We probably won’t do that again.   Cold gummy worms were interesting, but once might be enough.   This is the view from the ice cream shop.

Painted desert from Painted Desert Inn

America’s historic Route 66 separates the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.   Route 66 connected Chicago and Los Angeles.   Americans were buying cars, gasoline was inexpensive, and people wanted to drive across the United States.   Route 66 was the most famous road of the time.   This 1932 Studebaker is a reminder and tribute to all who traveled this road.

1932 Studebaker on Route 66

As the landscape changes from desert to desert with petrified wood, we want to show you what we saw.

Those are not rocks. They are petrified logs

The hills is the distance appear to have large boulders; they are petrified logs.   The colors in the logs are produced by minerals.   Red and pink show a presence of hematite.   Yellow, brown and orange have a presence of goethite, derived by weathering from iron bearing minerals.   Green is from pure reduced iron.   White is pure silica.   Black results from either organic carbon or pyrite.   Purple and blue are produced by manganese dioxide.    This information was provided by the gift shop at the park.

This really is wood.

Agate Bridge is a fossilized tree, 110 feet long.   This tree grew in the tropical forest 217 million years ago while dinosaurs roamed the area.

Agate Bridge

This bridge was once used by humans, but now humans and traveling ducks are not allowed to be on the bridge.   In 1917 (a hundred years ago), the concrete supports were built.   Even though we know this is petrified wood, we are still amazed how much it looks like rock.

Love the colors of the wood

This log is great also and we see so many more in the background.

Petrified log with many more in the background

We are in a National Park so it is not allowed to take anything, including petrified wood from the park.  We are happy about that.   We hiked on some of the trails and enjoyed the wood laying around.   We were here last year also and would love to return again.   We ducks, and humans, love our National Parks.   You will enjoy a visit also.



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