Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert

There is no shade in the Petrified Forest, and the Painted Desert lives up to its colorful name. It's an amazing display of color that really has to be seen to be believed.
Petrified Forest
We departed the Globetrotter Lodge in Holbrook at 7:45, destined for the Petrified Forest National Park. At the visitor center, our kids dug for fossils and played with kinetic sand while the desk officer gave Kacey and me some insights into the park.
Diggin' up bones

Petrified Forest & Painted Desert map
I-40 & old Route 66 cut through the middle of the park (Source)
We took a short hike behind the visitor center and saw lots of lizards on petrified logs.

 We then drove up to the Crystal Forest, arriving around 9:30am.
Way back when all the trees fell down, the logs were covered with ultra-fine mineral-rich water that permeated into the wood at the cellular level. The result was what you see here.

 Each color corresponds to a different mineral, and quartz formations lend to the crystalline sparkles.
Iron oxides: Red, yellow, orange and purple
Manganese oxides: Black and gray
Pure Quartz: white
If a tree falls in a petrified forest, does it get stoned?
 I also think that when viewed from the right angle under the right lighting, it almost looks like magically sparkling bacon.

The contrast of colors of neighboring trees is pretty amazing. You'd think they'd all look the same, but no, they all look different as they have different levels of the colorful minerals.
Looks like wood, but all stone

The bark usually dissolved, so this is only the wood

Look at the colors!

Junor Rangers for perspective

Zoom in on this one to see petrified wood chips.
Junior Ranger writing down her observations


Painted Desert
Just north of the Petrified Forest is the Painted Desert. Fun fact: This is the only National Park that is crossed by the old Route 66.
We reached Blue mesa around 10:25. Some areas were so dark that they looked like cloud shadows, but the sky was clear.
 The informational signs are a favored resting place for the local birds.

 One place we stopped had an unbelievable purple to white gradient. I think this was my favorite part of the park.
 It almost looks like your sink after you wash out really dirty clothes, and the various bits of grime cling to the edges of the the basin.
 Can you imagine all the changes in landscape this place has seen?

We had some ice cream at historic inn-turned-museum.



W ate lunch at visitor center then collected another Junior Ranger badge.
 Gassed up and on our way back to Albuquerque around 1:20 pm. Had dinner with friends before flying out. All in all, a great family vacation, and still so much to see in the area that I'm sure we'll be back soon.


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