Petrified Forest National Park lies north and south of Interstate 40 between Flagstaff, Arizona and Gallup, New Mexico. Even during the time of Covid in 2020, the Painted Desert Visitor Center was sort of open— and not open. They were limiting visitors into the center, the theater was closed, but shopping was available. I did buy a beautiful walking pole for replacement of a 20 year-old stick. There are 28 miles of paved road between the different sections and multiple small trails to explore. It can take an hour or a day.
What is your favorite National Park? What was the last park you visited? What ones do you still have on a “bucket list”?
The northern part of park has a Lodge (that was closed) with a view to an amazing Painted Desert area. Trees shade us near the lodge and desert us on another trail. The tiny rocks led to my first fall of the trip. You must wear appropriate shoes no matter how short, the climb or trail. You must.
The park crosses the famous “Route 66” and the old car and bench marked the memory. Route 66 was called “the Main street of America” before there were Interstates across the great Southwest. This was a marvelous place to stop on the way to California and I am glad they have kept the remembrance.
With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. I Chronicles 29:2 NIV
The geology changes as we passed to the other side of the park. There were petroglyphs to photograph and view. The desert landscape reveals colors, logs of stunning beauty, and trails short and long. We kept finding more and more to explore and visit.
Finally, the Petrified Forest is revealed through multiple trails both short and long. The trees are distant and at your fingertips. The story goes that they now will check your car before you leave because of the amount of loss of these national treasures throughout unmonitored visitors.
The process of petrification is explained and is mystifying. I was given two of these large petrified wood logs given to me from relatives. The source is unknown, and now, I view them in my yard, very reverently. They are mystical gifts from a distant past.
The rocks of logs look as if they were cut by a chainsaw. Some are the size of California Redwoods which grew in the Arizona Desert in an unknown, but ancient geological age.
A rising moon and colorful Arizona sunset was enough to stop cars all along the highway. Colors exposed in the earth and repeated in the magical sunset.