As we drove out of Gila National Forest, New Mexico, the landscape was constantly changing. In the past when I thought about being in “the desert”, I did not envision tall evergreen trees in a forest. Did you? The winding road coming down into the valley had several signs indicating “DIP” and “Running Water” but we never saw any water. It is a warning sign for monsoon season when heavy rains flood the road.
The center line disappeared at times and the road became much narrower.
Below is another frequent sign that was much appreciated as it was pretty tight with the trailer behind us. We almost got side swiped by a woman in a mini-van!
We stopped at a high point to capture a picture with snow capped mountains in the background.
As we continued on, the view in New Mexico changed from an evergreen forest…
… to colorful flat land covered in yellow wildflowers…
…to brownish grasses and sagebrush…
…to the burnt remains from fire…
…until we arrived in Arizona.
We chose to stay at a KOA Campground in Holbrook, AZ. It was right off Hwy 40 which made it easier to travel to the next park. We spent all Friday, April 5, at Petrified Forest National Park.
Shaped by wind and water millions of years ago, this land holds vital clues to the past. The land preserved remnants of prehistoric forests, now petrified wood, plant and animal fossils, and artifacts that have told so much about this beautiful, wild land, but there is more to be learned. The fossils in the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center provide crucial clues to the past from the Late Triassic Period, the dawn of the dinosaurs when smaller dinosaurs struggled with various crocodile-like reptiles for survival. I find myself staring at the fossils and wondering what it must have been like. After viewing the film and looking around the museum, we began our self-guided tour of the park. We started with a 2.6 mile roundtrip hike to Long Logs and Agate House Trail.
This trail leads to the site of a Triassic-period logjam, where some specimens were over 180 feet long. The structure you see in the background was a replica of a seven-room Pueblo constructed of petrified wood. This is just a part of it.
We got in the truck and started down Petrified Forest Road to Agate Bridge pull off. In order for the bridge to stay up, they placed cement underneath the petrified tree to keep it from falling down.
Next stop was Newspaper Rock which displays more than 650 petroglyphs, some over 2,000 years old. The area was fenced off so you could only observe from up above. I actually only saw one that looked liked a picture carved into the stone. I look at the following picture, and I can’t make out what I was hoping to share. Can you find a petroglyph?
We had passed the Tepees and the Blue Forest/Blue Mesa trail since it was a non-published hike that I wasn’t interested in doing at first. After we left Newspaper Rock, I changed my mind and we went back and parked the truck near The Tepees. This trail was once accessed by a road which led to a steep, winding trail for adventure minded hikers. Today, you would drive right past it unless you had read about it online (as Scott did). See the pyramids in the background? That is where we were headed.
There was a narrow, dirt path spiraling up the badlands and at times there were deep holes in the ground.
The colors were magnificent, especially the purple and blue hues. Needless to say, I was leery of the holes wondering what may come out of them.
I turned to face the direction we had come from and took a picture. If you zoom in, you can see our white truck dead center on the road. We had come quite far, and Scott showed no signs of wanting to turn around. It is possible that someone else was ready to pack it in.
There was little plant vegetation and we were trying to figure out if this was one plant in its’ stages of growth. We think that it began as fuchsia bud that changed to green as it grew, and then sprouted fuchsia flowers on darker green leaves. Or perhaps it was two or three separate plants.
Off in the distance we could see larger green shrubs and a few small trees. Again, I turned back to where we had begun. If you zoom in, you can possibly make out our truck dead center.
At this point, I announced that I was turning around, and so we did. On the way back to the truck, Scott took some up close pictures of the petrified wood.
Tomorrow, we head towards Sedona.