4,937 forum posts
This is the first trip report of one of the places I bicycled thru and photographed this last Fall on my way from Jackson WY to Tucson AZ. It is the The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest Nat Park area of northern Arizona. I worked on the images last eveing to get them ready to post here today. I was in the parks northern and southern areas on the 28th of September just 17 days after leaving Jackson WY for those curious how long it takes to ride that far. A distance of about 1000 miles.
My bike at the main entrance to the National Park.
The old Painted Desert Lodge veranda overlooking the land.
The landscape is painted with hues and colors of the different minerals and sand/siltstone layers.
Here and there plants have grown where once was a primeval land with Dinosaurs and much different flora than we see today.
Like the Badlands of the northern west the land is slowly eroding away.
New rivers cut thru the land where ancient sea beds and forests once stood eons ago.
Late blooming Rabbitbrush shows its colorful flowers in late September along the edges of the Painted Desert.
Reddish pink and grey siltstone shows ancient layers below still lava covered hilltops
Erosion still takes down the land in the seasonal monsoons that wash layer after layer away revealing old land beneath
Few monoliths of land stand above the largely eroded landscape
Like Testaments to time some linger and show their ancient layers to the eye
The park road cuts thru some of the ancient hillsides
A distant hill fingers across the landscape
Near the edge of the area between the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest the land begins to rise
Here and there giant layers of stone still hold out to the erosion that has taken the land to the north and washed it away.
Sandstone capblocks sit apon siltstone layers from an ancient time
Between the park areas Anasazi peoples once lived building their homes and villages in the land
Places once inhabited by early humans now erodes and settles back into the earth
Archeological wonders of masonry did the ancient one's (Anasazi) build without the wheel or level
Their story now written by those who came after...
While their own drawings show the land and its wildlife etched on the stones
Long before man showed up on the land, giant reptiles roamed and fought and died in ages long since forgotten but to their bones
Layers like these held the dinosaur fossil bones
Petrified Forest N.P. walkway into the old trees now turned to rock
Some of the giant ancient trees sill lay as they fell during a volcanic eruption (The San Francisco Peaks or Mount Baldy 250,000 yrs ago)or blast from a an ancient meteor hitting the ground nearby (The Meteor Crater 50,000 yrs ago) Note person sitting on other end of log by walkway
Perhaps this tree was already dead and decaying inside out when it became covered in ash or earth long ago?
A long once tall tree lays where it fell
Now eroded down into a gully surrounded by mudstone and purplish silts a ancient tree sections lay exposed
New trees grow along ancient log sections
A petrified log bridge spans a recent creek bed. The cement section below it protects it and keeps the log bridge viewable to history's onlookers
The now colorful tree layers show different minerals that took the place of the tree as it fossilized into rock
Other logs still show growth rings and bark layers saved by the mineral composition
Here another long log broken into section shows the bark
Some of these trees one has to look twice to see it not a new log.
Detail closeup on the end of a turned to rock log. Looks as tho white quartz made its way to the trees heart
Beautiful isn't it?
It took me all of the day to ride thru the two parts of the park. In late September it was till quite hot with little or no shade a distance of about 70 miles top to bottom. There is no camping along the way.