(Where Gumbo was #530)
Gumbo was visiting one of America's most amazing National Parks, Petrified Forest. Congratulations to George G, who recognized where Gumbo was.
From my perspective, there are two aspects of the park worth discussing and illustrating in some detail. One of these is the Painted Desert, which extends throughout the park but which is especially dramatic as approached from the northern entrance of the park. The other is the petrified forest, with an enormous concentration of petrified trees in the southern portion of the park.
(panoramic photo of the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park)
Today's post will focus on the Painted Desert. Friday's post will look in detail at the Petrified Forest.
The colors and badlands geology of the Painted Desert are truly spectacular. The name is derived from the multitude of colors you'll see, ranging from lavenders to red, orange, gray and pink. These colors decorate eroded hills, mesas and buttes.
The Painted Desert was named by a Spanish expedition in 1540. Passing through this colorful landscape, they named it El Desierto Pintado ("The Painted Desert"). The name has stuck these past 500 years.
The Painted Desert extends from the eastern end of the Grand Canyon to Petrified Forest National Park, a stretch of about 150 miles. Much of the Painted Desert is quite remote and within the Navajo Nation so it is generally not accessible. The section of the Painted Desert within Petrified Forest National Park gives you a wonderful overview of this landscape, its colors and contrasts. Many of the photos in this blog were taken from the Main Park Road as we entered from the north.
An interesting stop is the Painted Desert Inn, located in the northern end of the park, which was completed in 1920. It is designed in Pueblo Revival Style, with walls that are more than 2 feet thick. In 1935 the Inn was purchased by the Park Service and remodeled. It was reopened in 1940, providing services to Route 66 passengers, but closed a few years later because of World War II. The Inn has been remodeled and reopened several more times and today serves as a museum which is open to the public. It has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. The views from the Inn are breath-taking!
One of the surprise stops along the road through the Park is by this old car wreck, a symbol of the Route 66 heyday. Petrified Forest National Park is the only park which has a portion of the old Route 66 highway in it.
Our journey to the south includes a stop at Indian ruins, which are most notable for the petroglyphs nearby. The extensively decorated rock shown above is known as "Newspaper Rock".
Another beautiful section of the Painted Desert shows interesting, banded color, as seen above. If you look carefully, you might see your first glimpses of petrified logs.
While the desert landscape may seem lifeless, it is home to coyotes, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, and a variety of bird life. Hiking trails are available, although be sure you take water with you. It gets very hot here in the summer.
The second part of our visit to Petrified Forest National Park is posted at this link.