the wandering chick
...the Petrified Forest
and the Painted Desert
The Petrified Forest National Park, and within it, the Painted Desert, is a nice one-day outing if you're in northeastern Arizona. Roughly divided by Interstate 40, the Painted Desert lies on the northern part of the park. South of the interstate, a portion of which is the old Route 66, is where most of the pockets of petrified wood can be found. The park is about 30 miles from north to south and, even if taking in a few short hikes, can be done in a full day.
Both sections of the park have a designated drive with overlooks offering the most picturesque views. And some of the overlooks have short trails for added views.
If you're a hiker, the Blue Mesa Trail is a must-do. It's an easy couple of miles below the driving surface and was, for me, the highlight of the park.
The national park is located 20 miles east of Holbrook, Arizona, in an otherwise remote area. There are no eating establishments within the park and very few once you leave Holbrook. Most likely, Holbrook will be your main base, but I also visited Winslow which is west of Holbrook. Both are big Route 66 towns, adding fun to this part of Arizona I hadn't traveled before.
the park is most known for its fossils in the form of petrified tree trunks which lived about 225 million years ago. The species of tree from which most of the logs came is now extinct.
This tree is called Old Faithful and is the largest trunk in the park.
The Blue Mesa Trail is among these hills in the Rainbow Forest section of the park. It's a wonderful hike that takes you to the base of the mountains. Being surrounded by the towering peaks leaves you with an appreciation for their colorful beauty.
The climb in and especially the climb out (left) of the Blue Mesa trail looks more intimidating than it really is.
A section of the part called The Teepees...for obvious reasons
Myriad types of desert bush and shrubery hold their own when it comes to autumn colors.
The Painted Desert's Tiponi Point Overlook
The Painted Desert Inn at Kachina Point is a national historic landmark. Built in the late 1930s, it has since gone through extensive renovations and is now a bookstore and museum.
Kachina Point where sits the Painted Desert Inn
Above and Below: Nizhoni Point, in the Painted Desert
Above and Left: A tribute to the historic and famous Route 66 can be seen within the park grounds.
(with a few Route 66 sights thrown in)
Another view of Kachina Point
An evening glow lights up the Teepees as the sun sets in the park.
On the way to the Petrified Forest it was more winter-like than fall. A dusting the day before my trip left the trees and ground snow-covered, but the roads, fortunately, were dry. These photos were taken on the Arizona Highway 260 between Heber and Payson.
Route 66 runs right through the town of Holbrook. I'm sure it looked different back then, but there's enough of the old-town feel and reminders of days gone by to make you feel you've gone back in time.
My plan was to stay in one of the Wigwams, just for the novelty of it. But because the office doesn't seem to open until three or four in the afternoon, I decided to get a room somewhere else. I chose the Globetrotter Lodge which was a wise decision. The owners, being Austrian, know how to do breakfasts. No styrofoam cups or plastic spoons at this sweet little establishment.
Another old Route 66 town in Arizona is Winslow. And it plays up well its fame from the Jackson Browne song, "Take It Easy."
To view more locations in Arizona, please return to the Arizona home page.
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At 9:30 on a Saturday morning, there were more tourists "standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona" than there were open businesses. A complete intersection is a tribute to Route 66 and the song that made the town famous.
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