Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks

Sorry for the long wait between posts.  We were on the road to the Grand Canyon and then in it and wifi was pretty much non-existent until today.  So, let me tell you about Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park.

Most of the Painted Desert is part of the Petrified Forest National Park.  It was named by Coronado during his quest in 1540 for the cities of Cibola.  After finding the cities and discovering they weren’t made of gold, he headed back to the Colorado to get more supplies and passed through the area. It is easy to see why he called it “El Desierto Pintado” or Painted Desert.

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After crossing over I-40 and Route 66, you find yourself in the part of the park known as the Petrified Forest.  It was declared a national monument in 1906 and became a national park in 1962.

If you are expecting towering trees and woodlands, think again.  When my younger brother and I were in our teens, our parents drove us cross country and brought us here.  We were expecting trees.  We found…rocks.  Let’s just say, for a 19 year old and a 13 year old, this wasn’t our favorite stop.

Luckily, I’ve grown up since then and find the process of how the trees from 225 million years ago became solid rock.  The park is also known for its fossil finds, dating to the late Triassic period.

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For $20, you get a 7 day pass into the park for your whole car and those who are in it.  There are signs everywhere reminding you NOT to take home any rocks or animals from the park.  Everything within the park is Federally protected.  There are many pull offs and trails to hike, for those who want to get a bit more into the scenery.  It is a lovely place, but remember, don’t miss the trees when you’re looking for the forest.  They’re all around you.

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