Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Painted Desert

May 31, 2001
OK RV Park
Holbrook, Arizona

We took the car up to finish the drive
through The Petrified Forest National Park.
The park has its own exit off of I-40.
You enter the park going north and
ultimately the road curves around and
goes straight south crossing under I-40.
Look carefully for the N/S road.
That’s the one that goes through the park.

Petrified NP & Painted desert Map

We had done the northern part yesterday
but we drove that short 8 mile section
again and began our hikes at mile
9 with Peurco Ruin Loop Trail.


The pueblo was occupied during the
period from 1100 to 1300.  The windowless
walls were 10” thick.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 032 


There was an overlook and
a guy who didn’t obey the sign.
And the person who followed the rules
and took the surveillance photo.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 046

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 047

Some peublo petroglyphs




Further on down the road was Newspaper Rock.
More than 650 images are on these boulders
pecked by the people who farmed the Puerto
River Valley 650 to 2000 years ago.

These are some amazing images. 
And thankfully, you could not go up to the rocks
so they had not been defaced. 
There were binoculars
on the wayside above. 
Thanks to David’s
camera for these pictures from a
fair distance away.





On we went when we were slowed to
a stop by these two


Pronghorn Antelope were once nearly as
numerous as bison.  Their numbers fell
to as few as 20,000 by 1924 but
they now number nearly 800,000 now.


They obviously knew they had the right of way
and he was giving us that look to let us
know he knew
.  The kind you give
the driver who isn’t slowing down
quite fast enough as you are in the crosswalk.


Check this headgear.


The scenic drive went on with stops at
The Tepees.
It looked like the Bonneville Salt Flats
but it wasn’t.  The distinct white layers
are sandstone.  The cap of the tepees is clay.
Dark layers are caused by high carbon content.
Darker reds are iron-stained siltstone.
Reddish bases are stained by iron oxide,
which is also called hematite.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 071

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 081

Do you see the Petrified Wood up on
the top of the following photo? 
And the logs that have rolled down the side?


If not, here it is.  Now can you find it in the picture above?


It’s lunch time.


And then, the main attraction.
The Blue Mesa Trail

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 152

The Blue Mesa Trail is a one mile walk
into the heart of the “badlands”
of the petrified forest.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 164
The colorful bands are ancient soil horizons.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 169
Red, blue & green contain the same amount
of iron and manganese.

Differences in the color depend on the groundwater table
at the time the soil was formed.

When the table was high, lack of oxygen gave the iron
in the soils a greenish or bluish tint like in Blue Mesa.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 178A

The pink and red formed when the water table
fluctuated allowing the iron to rust.


Look at the size of these logs.



We are starting out of the canyon.
By the way, t
he trail is paved to protect
the area from erosion and also to
make sure folks know where NOT to walk.
See the raven?


Aren’t those stripes amazing??

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 218

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 238

One last view.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 243

We stopped at several other interesting
sites but I can’t include them all here.
You’ll just have to go do the drive for yourself.  :-)

But I do want to show you Jasper Forest.

The petrified wood strewn in this valley was once
encased in the bluffs around it.  As in Blue Mesa, when
erosional forces removed the soft rocks the petrified
wood tumbled down and accumulated on the valley floor.
Once filled with fallen logs, Jasper Forest was
seriously plundered in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 287

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 379

Still SO much wood, I can’t imagine
what it must have looked like before the looting.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 381


In Crystal Forest, thoughtless
visitors over the years have removed
most the crystals that gave the forest its name.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 291a

But they are beautiful just the same.


 The Long Logs Trail
circles one of the greatest concentrations
of in-tact petrified logs in the Park.
Trees over 100' long were stripped of their branches
by ancient rivers and eventually came together
within this vicinity. Ancient log jam.


225 million years ago, Petrified Forest National Park
lay within a heavily wooded, tropical floodplain.
Large coniferous trees - felled by age, wind, disease or insects -
were swept downstream, eventually settling in
and around riverbeds that once rushed through the Park.


Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 342 

Period flooding and erosion interspersed
with volcanic activity from the south and west
carried sediments and ash downstream,
settling over fallen trees in the area.
In some cases trees were buried quickly
and deeply enough to deprive them of oxygen,
thus significantly slowing the natural decomposition process.
Over time, ground water dissolved silica
from volcanic ash into the porous body of fallen, buried trees.
This solution formed quartz crystals
that filled hollows and cracks in the logs,
eventually 'petrifying' them by encasing
and replacing the trees' organic material with minerals.
The wood's brilliant colors come from impurities
in the quartz, such as iron, carbon, and manganese.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 420

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 376 

Near the end of the park road is the
Rainbow Forest Museum

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 436 

a natural history museum with these
former inhabitants.  Or at least two of them.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 328

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 332A 

Which one of the above creatures lived
here 200M years ago when this area was
not a short grass prairie?  A great river
system flowed through here and the
phytosaur swam through its waterways.
Behind the museum is what is known as
Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 335

You must enter and leave through the museum rear door.
The park is trying very hard to protect these logs
from what continues to be serious looting.
When you enter the park you are told that it is
a Federal Offense to remove anything from the park.
And that petrified wood gathered from outside the
park is for sale at numerous curio shops.
When you leave the park you are stopped for
They don’t necessarily actually inspect your vehicle but
they reserve the right to do so and always ask
if you have any petrified wood in your vehicle.

I didn’t find this so much of a Giant Logs trail
as a beautiful logs trail.



Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 385

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 388

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 397A



and more and more and more


And logs were not the only beautiful things
we saw in the park.


Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 423A

We exited the park, after our inspection,
turned left on Arizona Rt 180 and
took it back to Holbrook, Winnona and dinner.

Off to Williams tomorrow for a down day.
Wonder what David will get into while I’m
reading and writing blogs??


  1. I'm so glad that I was able to join you for lunch. The fresh air and beautiful scenery was just the break that I needed.

  2. Another great tour!! It was a walk down memory lane for us.

    It looked like you had the place all to yourself. It is so BEAUTIFUL!!

  3. It is a beautiful area. So much color!

  4. A great virtual tour; thanks for taking us along.

  5. Great photos. Really enjoy your blog.

  6. That is the best blog tour I've ever seen of the Petrified Forest NP. Very interesting area, you certainly gave a great description, too, along with the usual incredible photos.

    I've moved this place up to the top of our bucket (not paint bucket) list.

  7. Thanks for another awesome tour. Just beautiful!

  8. Can't believe all of those logs, HAVE to see those!!! Your pics and tour was great!

  9. Fabulous photos! You are really living the dream - how beautiful! Gems & pretty colors - so cool!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!