Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Petrified Forest National Park

After arriving at Holbrook we set up camp at the Petrified Forest KOA,(Basically a gravel parking lot), and checked out the rock shops before heading to the National Park. We had planned on spending a day at the park but there was too much to see so this blog is divided into two parts. The first day, we drove to the park headquarters. From there we stopped at the North Rim Trail, Pueblo Puerco, Newspaper Rock, Blue Mesa, and the Crystal Forest.

The North Rim Trail is about .6 of a mile long and gave us our first good view of the painted desert. The rocks were horizontal layers of the Chinle formation exhibiting typical badlands topography, dendritic stream patterns, and rock bands that were colored with various shades of iron oxides. In other words a pretty desert landscape. The trail was an easy hike and was well signed with guides to the plants and wildlife.

From there we stopped at other places but the next main stop was a the Pueblo Puerco, a prehistoric 100 room pueblo. It was a nice stop with some interesting petroglyphs.

Next we stopped at Newspaper Rock, which is pictured above. It was one of our favorite stops of the day as the two large rocks are covered with petroglyphs. The cliff side reminded us of the sandstone cliffs by Devils Tower. As we viewed the petroglyphs a raven flew by clutching an unlucky lizard in it's beak.

Blue Mesa, and it's trial was a three mile loop from the main road. We really enjoyed it but didn't walk the interpretive trail as we were hungry and so we drove to the Natural Bridge, a large petrified tree, and ate lunch in the parking lot.

Our final stop of the day was at the Crystal Forest. It is an area where there are hundreds of pieces of large petrified logs. At one time the ground was covered by shards of crystals from the weathered logs but unfortunately most have been stolen by visitors. The logs that are left are some of the most beautiful we have seen. We resisted any urges to grab any ourselves, (did I mention the minimum fine of 325 bucks?), and instead took image after image of the jasper filled logs.

After returning home, we both agreed that the highlights of the day were Newspaper Rock and the Crystal Grove. We were both filled with the beauty of the place. Tomorrow it's off to the Long Log Trail! Clear skies.

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