Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Forest & Desert in One!

Holbrook had been our stopover specifically so we could drive through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Park.  Just south of town you pick up the highway through the park and then catch I-40 at the north end of town.  This was definitely set up to be a drive-through park, and though there are a lot of pre-marked areas to go explore things they want you to see, there is a lot more to the park that is off limits.  Thomas and I felt a little restricted, but not for everyone staring down their nose at you reminding you not to pick up any petrified wood or other articles.  The map even came with a notice to rat out any other tourists who looked suspiciously like stealing our national treasures.  When I picked up a pistachio shell that very obviously didn't belong (it wasn't petrified yet, and I don't think any of the petrified trees were pistachio trees), I was conscious that it looked like I might be convicting a felony instead of picking up someone else's trash.  Enough rant - we made it out with a courteous, "Did you have fun?" from the park ranger in the booth as we exited and didn't have any cavity searches for fossilized bark.  And truthfully, it really was worth seeing.

There was a neat video about the Triassic Park that it used to be and how the petrified wood came to be.  What I wanted to know is if they can count the rings of a petrified tree to figure out how old it was when it fell!  These pictures make it look like you could...

This down tree looked more real than the others.  The blonder color of petrified bark intrigued me.
The north end of the park is painted desert.  We pulled over for a couple more pictures, but what we remarked about the two ends of the park is that any Joe Schmoe could walk right down old Route 66 and not notice either one - the petrified wood or the painted desert.  The colors are stunning, but you can't see what's out there until you're practically right up on the rim.  Wonder how many people passed by without seeing and felt bad when they found out what they missed?!?

A little water was trickling through, but the wideness of the beds made me think that when the rain does come, the flash floods through the desert must be awesome.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At least you all went to the real petrified forest. We did not realize the one we went to in the Napa Valley was not the "real" one until we were already there which was a long way off the beaten path. Oh well it was interesting in it's own right.