Petrified Forest National Park/Painted Desert/66

Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thursday, May 23 – What a beautiful morning when we got up.  The sun was shining with blue skies and there was no wind but like yesterday high winds were predicted for the day (50 miles per hour).  So off we headed up interstate  40 north  and got a campsite in the morning at Root 66 RV Park which I reviewed below.  Not a thing of beauty but located on the historic route 66 old road and run by a nice Indian family.  Price could not be beaten.

    Drove north and got off at the exit for the Petrified Forest National Forest and the Painted Desert.  This park runs from north to south for about 20 miles and then you drive back to Holbrook and catch the interstate to come back to the campground.  Great day but the winds came in and it was hard to open the RV doors sometimes and not get blown off some of the viewpoints.  It was in the high 80's and hot so hiking was exhausting.  I think I am all hiked out, it will be glad to get back to RI with no hills and just walk on level ground.

  Petrified National Forest became a National Monument in 1906 because vandals were stealing the wood and sometimes even dynamiting the logs to get the crystals out.  In 1932, 53,000 more acres of the Painted Desert were added.  Finally, in 1962 it became a National Park.  Under George Bush the park was expanded to double its size.  It is an amazing park.

    The painted desert is so colorful and the petrified logs many that once held glassy amethyst and quartz crystals before thieves stole them.   The Tepees section has layered blues, purples, and grays created by iron, carbon, manganese and other minerals stand in cone like formations.

   The park itself was once a vast floodplain crossed by many streams.  Tall, stately conifer trees grew along the banks.   After the dinosaurs the trees fell and swollen streams washed them into adjacent floodplains.  There a mix of silt, mud, and volcanic ash from distant volcanoes buried the logs.  This cut off oxygen and slowed the logs’ decay.  Then silica-laden groundwater seeped through the logs, replacing the original wood tissues with silica and petrifying the logs.  The beautiful colors of the petrified wood come from the minerals in the silica saturated water.

  Please note especially Linda Dandrow – it is illegal to collect or remove any petrified wood from the park.  Fines and jail time can happen.  In the visitor center they have posted letters from people who have returned rocks they took and have felt terrible about it.  Some of them are funny! Petrified wood is sold by venders who get the rocks from private land but I seriously don’t believe that all of it is from private land.  I remember coming to this park with my parents in 1955 and they bought me a small rock.  If I had known now what they charged, I would have saved it.  I think my mom when she moved gave my rock away.  Oh, well !

     There are three visitor facilities in the park.  The Painted Desert VC at the north entrance, Rainbow Forest Museum at the south entrance and the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark which is a Pueblo Revival style structure with cultural history exhibits.  The Inn was fascinating with an old fountain counter and booths.

There are nine major viewpoints, where you can hike and view petrified logs, painted desert and all of its colors, a 100 room village built in 1250, hundreds of petroglyphs etched into stone, cone shaped Tepees with all their colors, views of badlands, log falls and pedestal logs and a partially restored pueblo made of petrified wood.  The parks most massive log known as "Old Faithful" is located on the Giant Logs Trail at the south entrance.

   The park road was close to 20 miles and stopping at all the viewpoints took us over four hours plus to go through the park.  You can drive through faster but we were staying in the area and had plan the day to enjoy the park.

   Stopped at the Hopi Trading Post for some dinner and headed to the campground.  Leaving early tomorrow heading into New Mexico.  We have some National Monuments to visit and about 250 miles to go before we try to get a campsite.  It is Memorial Weekend so we are hoping we can find some spot.  

Thursday, May 23 – Root 66 RV Park, Sun Valley (Holbrook) AZ

    This is a campground right off interstate 40 at exit 294 in the eastern part of the state.  It is a small park with sites right next to each other with full hookups.  It is run by a nice family and we checked in early in the morning so that we could spend the day at the Petrified Forest National Park about 17 miles north off interstate 40.  We were coming from the west so it was easier to get a site in the morning and then drive to the park and take the park road from the north entrance to the south entrance and pick up 180 north to Holbrook and back to the campground.  Holbrook is a great place to get gas with reasonable prices.  This is a Passport America park so the cost was $16.50.  Showers are extra and there is not much to do in the campground.  It is a good overnight stop right off the highway and you can hear the cars and trucks from your site.  There is 24 hour check in and checkout is at noon.  It is a safe place to camp with reasonable costs.  If we were traveling through AZ again and needed a place to stay on our travels we would stop again.  It is also located on the historic route 66.
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Linda on

OK you guys--I want you to know I was there in 1973 and did not steal any petrified wood!! Only took pictures!! Walter was driving and at stops he would not even get out of the van and walk around!! He could see it all from where he was sitting!!
My cousin is coming from Alabama this summer and I can send my other little treasure from Italy back with her to give to my other cousin!!

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