Petrified

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona-2Forest that is!

Just as we traveled west of Holbrook, Arizona along Interstate 40 (and along old Route 66) we came upon the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.

Wow! It was surprising and quite amazing.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona-4

I did a little review of the history of this forest (although it’s like a desert) while on location but I think it’s better to use some previous, documented research to provide some background.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona-1

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona-3

How Petrified Wood Was Formed

Petrified Tree at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona-5According to ArizonaLeisure.com, when trees were toppled by volcanic eruptions, they were swept away by flowing water and deposited in marshes and covered with mud and volcanic ash. Buried under layers of sediment, the logs remained buried for millions of years undergoing a extremely slow process of petrification which essentially turned the logs to colorful stone. (How does this compare to eruptions in Hawaii and elsewhere?)

Petrified Tree -1 at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

The logs were also covered with even more sediment from the ocean. Millions of years ago the ocean disappeared and was replaced with flowing rivers that gradually eroded over 2,600 feet of sediment depth slowly exposing the petrified wood that litters the landscape at the Petrified Forest National Park.

“There is no doubt that millions of pounds of petrified logs still remain buried deep into the ground. Eventually gradual and continuing erosion will expose even more stone logs that are still entombed.” https://www.arizona-leisure.com/petrified-forest.html

The petrification process began with tree burial. The volcanic ash and mud released chemicals during decomposition. The chemicals reacted with wood to form quartz crystals which by themselves are colorless. Minerals in the water such as iron or manganese gave the quartz red and pinkish hues. Over millions of years, the quartz crystals “cocooned” the logs slowly turning them to stone.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona-6 - Petrified Trunk with jewels

National Geographic: See the Enchanting, Ancient Forest in the Middle of a Desert

“Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park is a can’t-miss destination for those looking for otherworldly landscapes.”

According to National Geographic the Painted Desert (part of the Petrified Forest National Park) draws more than 600,000 visitors each year. “While most come to see one of the world’s largest concentrations of brilliantly colored petrified wood, many leave having glimpsed something more.” The current 346 square miles of Petrified Forest open a window on an environment that was once far more drastic than today’s grassland.  more than 200 million years old, one radically different from today’s grassland.

 

Where you now see ravens soaring over a stark landscape, leathery-winged pterosaurs once glided over rivers teeming with armor-scaled fish and giant, spatula-headed amphibians. Nearby ran herds of some of the earliest dinosaurs. Scientists have identified several hundred species of fossil plants and animals in Petrified Forest.

Much of the quartz that replaced the wood tissue 200 million years ago is tinted in rainbow hues. Many visitors cannot resist taking rocks, despite strict regulations and stiff fines against removing any material. To see if the petrified wood was actually disappearing at an alarming rate, resource managers established survey plots with a specific number of pieces of wood; some were nearly barren in less than a week.

The problem is not new. Military survey parties passing through the region in the 1850s filled their saddlebags with the petrified wood. As word of these remarkable deposits spread, fossil logs were hauled off by the wagonload for tabletops, lamps, and mantels. In the 1890s gem collectors began dynamiting logs searching for amethyst and quartz crystals. To prevent further destruction of its unique bounty, the area was designated a national monument in 1906 and a national park more than a half century later.  (More details are at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/petrified-forest-national-park/

Isn’t it interesting that humans can’t resist leaving beauty behind for others to behold.  This aspect of history doesn’t change.  We all want to take a little piece with us.  You’ll even notice some local businesses selling pieces of the artifacts.  I resisted though and rely on photography along with memories.  Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona-5 - Petrified Trunk with jewels

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona-5

USA Today tips for visiting the Petrified Forest

One of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world is found at Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, about 110 miles east of Flagstaff and 210 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Add to that dramatic, colorful geological formations and ancient art and you’ll quickly see why Petrified Forest National Park is a must-visit.

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Stop along the way
  3. Visit the museum
  4. Take a hike
  5. Go old school – really old (archeology style)
  6. Watch for birds
  7. Go wild
  8. Stop by the inn (Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark)
  9. Join a range

See tip details at https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/experience/america/national-parks/2018/03/28/petrified-forest-national-park-10-tips-your-visit/463822002/.

Love and Blessings,

Ron

Route 66 into Arizona – Picturesque

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View of the Painted Desert in Arizona near Route 66.  (Photos by RonLin Photography for Tittle Thoughts.)

America’s Highway, Route 66, continues as a picturesque and interesting ride as we traveled from New Mexico into Arizona.

19421935789_1116011cd0_oWe rode along Route 66 heading for the Grand Canyon and began noticing the beautiful, painted landscape.  Isn’t it amazing how many interesting places we can find even without looking – just taking the time and making the effort. This time it is the Painted Desert. And…I didn’t even realize it at first.

19609670745_25f3a9f775_oAccording to https://www.visitarizona.com/uniquely-az/parks-and-monuments/the-painted-desert-1 , “for an unforgettable encounter with Arizona nature, enter into the Painted Desert, where art comes to life. A broad region of rocky badlands encompassing more than 93,500 acres, this vast landscape features rocks in every hue – from deep lavenders and rich grays to reds, oranges, and pinks. It’s like you’ve been transported into a painting. Located in Northern Arizona, the Painted Desert stretches from the Grand Canyon National Park eastward to the Petrified Forest National Park, with a large portion lying within the Navajo Nation.”

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HISTORY & NATURE

A natural canvas millions of years in the making, no one event shaped the Painted Desert. Instead, the area is evidence of Earth’s volatility. Home to some of the nation’s most memorable formations and features, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and sunlight, all combined to create the Painted Desert. Deposits of clay and sandstone, stacked in elegant layers, reflects the setting Arizona sun in an altering display of colorful radiance. A remarkable sight that helps make Northern Arizona so unique and picturesque.

The Navajo and Hopi people have lived in this region for hundreds of years, but it was Spanish Colonialists who gave it the name we know it by today – El Desierto Pintado.

Explore a small section of the Painted Desert that is located in the Petrified Forest National Park, just off Interstate 40 around 25 miles east of Holbrook – to get in touch with the natural landscape.

See the beautiful color striations of rock formations and mesas. For the quintessential Painted Desert experience, don’t miss the sunset – it’s when the rocks morph into an awe-inspiring canvas of fiery color.

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While at the Painted Desert I noticed a little wind increasing and then a small whirlwind (or dirt devil or dust tornado) started.  I was intrigued and it was fun to watch. (Photo by RonLin Photography for Tittle Thoughts)
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“Located at Kachina Point, 2 miles (3.2 km) from the north entrance at exit #311 off of I-40. The inn once served as a respite for travelers along historic Route 66.”  – National Park Service; (Photos by RonLin Photography for Tittle Thoughts)
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Traveling along Route 66 provides opportunities for all types of interesting sites, including seeing travelers with various, unique arrangements.

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Years ago travelers along Route 66 would just abandon their vehicles when they broke down.  I can imagine the challenges of finding service centers or repair shops along the way.

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At least when you travel Route 66 today you’ll find ample businesses, service centers and restaurants to ease any fears of travel through the “desert.”

 

With love, Ron