The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

It always astounds me how much natural, raw beauty is in nature. Really, it continually catches my breath in new and exciting ways. Our vacation in Arizona really showed me a whole new side of nature with its desert beauty with thriving cacti and incredible places like the Grand Canyon. After our day at the Canyon we were so buoyed by the new sites that we were all ready to hop in the car for another road trip to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert.

It was about a 2.5 hour drive from Sedona through desolate, desolate desert. You never realize how much more comforting it is to drive through living, thriving forests instead of deserts. It was totally worth it once we arrived at the park.

Once you get in the park there is a visitor’s center which has some great information about how the petrified wood was formed. Basically, this park used to be way south in the world when there was just one big continent. It was a forest then until a giant storm made the river rise up and uproot the trees into its current. Once the logs were saturated, they sunk to the bottom where many layers of silt and soil formed on top of them, which is where the colors come from. Finally, the continent broke up and moved to where we have the current continents and basically the wood fossilized. History is pretty awesome, right?!

The visitor’s center also had a great little walk where you could see a concentration of the petrified wood. You had to stay on all the paths to preserve the park but the path meandered through the logs showing you the stunning colors and patterns preserved in the wood.

Since the park was pretty big (it took us hours to work our way through) they gave you a map that showed you where all the lookout points were. There were a few places to take short walks and other were just viewing points.

One stop that I loved showed petroglyphs, or old etchings in the stone from hundreds of years ago. Due to vandalism you couldn’t get close but had to look through binoculars to see these amazing etchings.

However, at another stop you could see more of these close-up where there were remains of an old village that used to be in the park (waaay before it was a park) when a river ran rampant through it. You could see the outline of the village and the different etchings they left behind.

After winding your way through the Petrified Forest part of the park, you all of a sudden found yourself surrounded by stunning views of the Painted Desert. Pictures really don’t do this place justice. It was just so vast and stunning.

There it is; another roundup from our vacation a few weeks ago. If you missed my first post about the Grand Canyon check it out here. I’ll be back next week with our final vacation wrap-up post!