2016 Feb 17 – Day 38 – California and Beyond – Petrified Forest

Day 38 – February 17 – Winslow, AZ to Gallup, NM (Petrified Forest National Park)

If you look on the map, Petrified Forest is a small park with one road running through it.  Not too big; shouldn’t take too long.  Wrong again!

IMG_1331 IMG_1333 A coal power plant at Joseph.IMG_1340 IMG_1341 IMG_1343 IMG_1344 IMG_1348 IMG_1350 IMG_1353 IMG_1355 Winslow is not too far away from the south entrance to Petrified Forest so we were at the Visitor’s Center about 10 am.  We looked around the exhibits and walked the Giant Logs Trail (less than half a mile) that starts at the back of the building.IMG_1362We left the Visitor’s Center an hour and a quarter later!  And this is how our day continued to go.  For a small park it is jammed full of nice trails, beautiful viewpoints, petrified logs here, there and everywhere, and a multitude of gorgeously coloured, striped Badlands.

IMG_1369 IMG_1363 IMG_1370 IMG_1371 IMG_1377 IMG_1378 IMG_1379 IMG_1381 IMG_1382IMG_1385 IMG_1386IMG_1394There must be quite a bit of illegal petrifed wood picking because when we went through the park entrance along with our brochure there was a bright green piece of paper for you to use to write down information for the park rangers if you see someone picking anything up.  A very detailed report too: When did it happen?  What happened? Who did it (describe them and their vehicle)? Where did it happen?

I asked a ranger about it because we had seen a huge sales lot for petrified wood on our way to the park.  He said that 80% of all the petrified wood in the area is OUTSIDE the park boundaries.  Of course the stuff is so dense it is very heavy so you certainly couldn’t collect big pieces without equipment.  But I was surprised it is obviously enough of an issue they give everyone a ‘spy sheet.’IMG_1399 IMG_1400 IMG_1406IMG_1404 IMG_1412 IMG_1413 IMG_1414 IMG_1415 IMG_1418 IMG_1419 These panorama shots show the 360 degree view.IMG_1421 IMG_1432 IMG_1442 IMG_1451 IMG_1462IMG_1461IMG_1476 IMG_1478 IMG_1479 IMG_1480 IMG_1484 IMG_1487 IMG_1488 IMG_1491 Our next stop was a 3/4 mile loop trail through the Crystal Forest where many of the petrified logs glint with the quartz in them.IMG_1493 IMG_1494IMG_1495This part of Arizona is obviously a major flight path.  There were upwards of 15 jetsteams in the sky on several occasions.IMG_1496IMG_1497IMG_1499IMG_1552IMG_1553IMG_1555IMG_1556IMG_1557IMG_1558IMG_1559IMG_1560IMG_1570 IMG_1580IMG_1582IMG_1583 IMG_1571Many years ago people would walk out and stand on Agate Bridge.  Even though the underside has been re-enforced with concrete you are not allowed to walk on it today.  I don’t think I would want to anyway.  It is a round log over quite a deep gulch full of bushes.  Not pleasant if you fall off.IMG_1584 IMG_1586 IMG_1587 IMG_1588 IMG_1589Even driving from one designated place to another requires numerous photo stops.IMG_1595IMG_1604IMG_1606IMG_1607IMG_1614IMG_1618IMG_1619IMG_1620IMG_1621IMG_1622IMG_1623IMG_1624IMG_1633IMG_1634IMG_1638IMG_1641IMG_1642IMG_1643IMG_1644IMG_1645IMG_1654IMG_1660IMG_1661IMG_1662IMG_1663IMG_1664IMG_1679You can see the trail as it winds along the bottom of the bluffs.IMG_1666IMG_1667IMG_1670IMG_1682IMG_1683IMG_1684Loved, loved, loved all the colourful stripes.IMG_1685IMG_1694IMG_1701IMG_1703IMG_1704These are called the Teepees.

IMG_1707IMG_1708IMG_1710IMG_1711IMG_1712IMG_1713IMG_1716IMG_1717The ancient Pueblo people lived in this area and a place they call Newspaper Rock has many, many petroglyphs.  Archaeologists do not know why they are so many in this one place, nor what meanings they may have.

IMG_1720 IMG_1721 IMG_1725 Can you see the petroglyphs on this rock?IMG_1739IMG_1728 IMG_1731 IMG_1736 IMG_1737 IMG_1742These coloured markings may be lichens, but the circles are very precise. The rock was too far away to see clearly.IMG_1749 IMG_1751 IMG_1753IMG_1754IMG_1755IMG_1756IMG_1757IMG_1758IMG_1759IMG_1760IMG_1761IMG_1762IMG_1763IMG_1764IMG_1767IMG_1813IMG_1814IMG_1815IMG_1816IMG_1817IMG_1819IMG_1769IMG_1770IMG_1771 (2)IMG_1772IMG_1773IMG_1774

The Solstice mark is the thin line on this rock.  It is on the inner side with other rocks in front of it.  The other side of the rock is the open- to-the-air side.  How on earth would they figure that out?

And it isn’t very big either.



The famous Route 66 – first national highway that was decommissioned when the freeways became faster and more direct – also used to pass through Petrified Forest.  There is a marker in the shape of a 1932 Studebaker sitting in front of a line of power poles where the road used to go.

IMG_1823 IMG_1824 IMG_1825 IMG_1826 IMG_1828  The park is situated on both sides of the major East-West Freeway, Highway 40 and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway line.  We passed over the railway and the freeway on overpasses before we stopped at the Route 66 maker.

At this point we had driven about 24 -25 of the 28 mile route through the park and it was almost 4 pm.  All that was left to do were a series of viewpoints along a long sweeping curve up a hillside, followed by a corner that took you to the opposite side for some more viewpoints, the former Painted Desert Inn (and now a National Historic Landmark) that contains exhibits about the building’s history and the northern entrance to the park.  We stopped at all the viewpoints but skipped the Desert Inn exhibits and the Visitor’s Center at this end of the park.

IMG_1831 IMG_1843 IMG_1844 IMG_1851 IMG_1862 IMG_1870 IMG_1880 IMG_1883 IMG_1884 IMG_1885 IMG_1887 IMG_1897It was after 4:30 when we drove out of the Petrified Forest National Park.  Note to self:  Never judge the points of interest in a park by the size of it on a map!  What fabulous scenery and interesting things!  I had a great day.  Sorry to flood the blog with so many photos but I took almost 600 pictures today so this is a small sample really.

We had about 70 miles to drive to get to Gallup, NM for the night.   We have now driven through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and into New Mexico.  More states to come.

We were zipping along the freeway between the park boundary and the New Mexico border and I noticed this sign.  IMG_1898“Holy cow,” I said to John.  “Is that the speed limit? 75 miles an hour?  That’s nuts.  You better not be doing that.”   Silence from the driver’s side of the car.

IMG_1899Cruise control set for 75mph!  I was glad to cross into New Mexico where the speed limit dropped to 65.IMG_1902You just cant get away from fabulous rock formations around here.IMG_1907 IMG_1908 IMG_1912 IMG_1915 IMG_1916


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