Yesterday we went to the Petrified Forest National Park. While we were there we autohiked through the small eastern section of the Painted Desert that is most easily accessible. Most of the rest of it's over 93,500 acres are Wilderness and back country.
For us, it was hard to tell where one stopped and the other began, so we made no distinction between the two. The pastel hued badlands were everywhere we drove and hiked, we were blown away by the stark but magnificent landscape.
Depending on the time of day, season of the year and quality of light the colors seem to change from pink to coral, from grey to lilac and blue, from tan to yellow and cream.
We saw ancient Indian ruins, petroglyphs and spectacular petrified wood, large and small.
|see our Jeep at the top of the Blue Mesa trail head?|
We took a relatively short, steep hike at Blue Mesa. We loved that we were able to get up close to these subtly colored features and see what they were made of.
|pale pink chips|
In one spot we had a very curious and insistent Raven who followed us wherever we went and noisily demanded attention. I finally tossed him a tiny piece of dog cookie from my pocket, he snapped it up and left.
Even though the thermometer read 80 degrees, and it felt all of that, the scenery at the bottom of Blue Mesa made us think we were walking through a snowy landscape.
|mini "tent rocks" only about 3 feet tall|
|some spots looked like someone just finished|
cutting fire wood that afternoon
|Dave saw this embedded log as we drove by...|
A few dashes of summer yellow were giving way to fall's golden falling leaves.
Self control.....I almost forgot. I'm a real rock hound. I can hardly hike along without picking up beautiful or unusual rocks. I have holes in my pockets from carrying rocks around. I call our Jeep "Rocky" because it's always full of my latest and best finds. I had to exercise EXTREME self control at the Petrified Forest National Park, I wanted some of those beautiful shards of crystallized rock. I know it's against the law to collect rocks in National Parks and this park is really serious about that law. You get a small lecture upon entering and must stop for a "car inspection" upon leaving. I have to admit I was a bit nervous when I saw that last sign....as I said "Rocky" is chock full of rocks and even though none were collected at this park, I wasn't sure how I would explain.....
Luckily the cheerful Ranger just waved us through and told us to have a good day. Phew