May 13th ~ Petrified Forest National Park
We got another late start today, but still had enough time to get a good overview of this diverse National Park. Entering from the southern entrance, we made a brief stop at a “tourist trap” type of museum/gift shop.
They had quite a selection of fossils, rocks, pottery and of course petrified wood slabs. The pricing was quite high, and since we were not in the market, we quickly moved on into the park.
We got an orientation from a ranger and watched an informative movie at the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitors Center. After some Q&A, we had our map marked of which highlights we were most interested in checking out.
Giant Logs Trail
The southern end of the park is where the majority of petrified logs can be found. Right behind the visitors center is a walking path where some of the most colorful examples can be seen up close.
You can walk the 1 mile trail and/or drive the 3.5 mile loop road to check out the colorful geology.
We walked part of the trail, but then found an overlook just a bit further down the road with wonderful views into the canyon.
Views were constantly changing as we drove down the road.
There are over 650 petroglyphs, some of them over 2000 years old. You can only observe them from a lookout platform. The only way to get a good view is through the viewing lens on the deck, bring your own binoculars, or use a high power camera lens to snap a photo.
Ancestral Puebloan homes and more petroglyphs. You can get much closer to these for better viewing.
The Mother Road used to pass through the park. There is a 1932 Studebaker, well the shell of one anyway, that marks where Route 66 used to be.
Painted Desert Inn
The inn is a National Historic Landmark. Sadly we got there just after it closed, so had to be satisfied with taking pictures of the outside only.
Another wonderful viewpoint. This one is located right behind the Painted Desert Inn.
Painted Desert Visitors Center
This is only a small center and it shows the same movie we had already seen, so quickly moved on down the road.
It was time to find a place to camp for the night. The Red Rock Park near Gallup, NM had been recommended. We plan on staying here for two nights.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that although warm, it was not too hot to comfortably do a bit of hiking. Back in 1991, Tim and I had briefly scooted through the edge of this park, but had not spent much time exploring. I am glad that we had the time to give it the respect it deserves and could spend the better part of a day here.