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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tour of Petrified Forest National Park

Piece of petrified wood at Crystal Forest in Petrified Forest National Park

May 6-7, 2015

Directly after a failed summit attempt on Humphrey's Peak in Flagstaff, AZ, M and I drove to Holbrook to stay at the Wigwam Motel. Our first stop for the evening was the south entrance of Petrified Forest National Park at Rainbow Forest Museum where we inquired about how to get a backcountry pass. Passes were only available at the main entrance, Painted Desert Visitor Center so we then strolled around the Giant Logs and returned to the Wigwam Motel to pack our bags for a possible backcountry hike. 

The next day, we drove out to the Painted Desert Visitor Center. We decided to first explore the park before picking up a permit. We drove about 20 miles one way to view the sites of the park but did not stop at Blue Mesa and Blue Forest. Each stop was breathtakingly beautiful ranging from panoramic vistas to historical buildings and even petroglyphs. The petrfied wood littered the land as far as our eyes could see and, if you weren't looking for the wood, you'd think it was just a pile of rocks. 

The entire drive through the park and back to the visitor center with stops for photos took us a little over 3 hours to complete. It was amazing to see the different types of petrified wood and learn about how this was all came to be. This was only the beginning for us since we were able to obtain the backcountry permit, insuring we would get to spend an entire day and night in the wilderness and, hopefully, have the place to ourselves.

South Entrance, Rainbow Forest Museum Area

Petrified Forest National Park south entrance by Rainbow Forest Museum

Walking around Giant Logs and Rainbow Forest Museum in the background.

Chinde Point

View from Chinde Point in Petrified Forest National Park

 Nizhoni Point

View at Nizhoni Point in Petrified Forest National Park

Route 66

At the Route 66 vista, you can view the remnants of what used to be Route 66 running through Petrified Forest National Park. Interstate 40 runs parallel to this in the background.

Newspaper Rock

Fun stop at Newspaper Rock to see petroglyphs

Newspaper Rock petroglyphs through the binoculars at the viewpoint

Agate Bridge

Agate Bridge is a natural bridge made from a stone log. A concrete support beam was placed under it to conserve the bridge.

Hedgehog cactus bloom near Agate Bridge

 Jasper Forest

View from Jasper Forest. If you look closely, you can see the petrified wood littered on the ground. This is one of the areas with the largest deposit of petrified wood in the park.

Closer look at the beautifully colored badlands formations in Jasper Forest

Crystal Forest

Paved paths lead you around all the logs in Crystal Forest

Large log broken up in pieces laid next to the path in Crystal Forest

Large logs were everywhere in the Crystal Forest section of Petrified Forest National Park

Beautiful rainbow deposits in this petrified log

More rainbow colored log pieces in Crystal Forest


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