Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona
Last week my husband and I made the three and a half day drive back home to Manitoba, Canada after wintering in Mesa Arizona. On the first day of the drive, we took some time to drive through the Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona. The 146 square mile park is home to one of the largest petrified wood deposits in the world.
The park is known for Late Triassic fossils and the multi-hued Chinle Formation. The large concentration of logs is the result of trees, which died naturally, floating downstream and forming log jams.
The landscape includes semi-desert shrub and eroded badlands. There are a number of vista points on the road through the park.
There are designated hiking trails. The Rainbow Forest Museum provides exhibits of petrified wood, fossils, and displays of prehistoric animals.
The northern end of the park extends into the Painted Desert, which gets its name because of the hues in the layers of rock caused by the varying mineral content in the sediments of the Chinle Formation. Erosion has exposed the colours.
Route 66 used to run through this area. The Painted Desert Inn opened in 1940 and provided hospitality food and lodging to Route 66 travellers. It closed in 1942 and re-opened in the late 1940s. It closed again in 1963 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. In 2006 it was restored. It now operates as a museum and appears as it would have in 1949.
You can spend one hour or an entire day in the park. We had limited time. We drove through the park, stopping at a number of the vista points, but didn’t hike the trails or tour the museum. This took us about 75 minutes.
The elevation is more than 5,000 feet with a dry windy climate. The day we visited was extremely windy. If we had chosen to hike the trails, warm clothes and windbreakers would have been called for. Summer months may be a warmer time to visit, but checking the weather first would still be advised as monsoons or dust storms are possible.
Whenever you visit and for however long, it is worth a visit.
Have you visited the Petrified Forest National Park? What points in the park do you recommend?
This post is linked to Travel Mondays