Sunday, April 14, 2013

Visiting the Past at Petrified Forest National Park

Imagine you are in a giant Science Museum outdoors. A natural science museum that will make you visit the past, of the late Triassic era, some 200- 250 million years ago. What clues from the past will you find? Let me share with you some......

1. Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood is a fossilized tree that has turned into a rock. 

What do these petrified woods reveal of the past?........

Petrified woods reveal that this DESERT was once a flooded plain, home to tall, stately pine-like trees. The tall trees fell and were washed by swollen streams into the floodplain. There they were covered by silt, mud, and volcanic ash. This blanket of deposits cut off oxygen and slowed the logs' decay. Gradually silica-bearing ground waters seeped through the logs. Bit by bit, they encased the original wood tissues with silica deposits. The silica crystallized into the mineral quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood. - source:

2. Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs are rock carvings which is used as some means of communication by the native Americans. Many of the petroglyphs were used as "solar calendars" to track the yearly movement of the sun across the sky through the interplay of sunlight on the petroglyph. Most petroglyph sites in Petrified Forest date from about 1000-1350 A.D. - source:

3. The Painted Desert
Blue Mesa Badlands from Blue Mesa Viewpoint (at the rim)
The Painted Desert is an expanse of badland hills, flat-topped mesas and buttes. The landscape displays a rainbow of colorful sedimentary layers exposed in a stark landscape, often described as a multicolored layer cake. The variety of hues in the sandstone and mudstone layers is the result of the varying mineral content in the sediments and the rate at which the sediments were laid down. When sediments are deposited slowly, oxides of iron and (hematite) aluminum become concentrated in the soil. These concentrations create the red, orange, and pink colors you see at the north end of the park.
Red, Pink and Orange Badlands (northern section of park)
During a rapid sediment buildup such as a flooding event, oxygen is removed from the soil forming the blue, gray, and lavender layers.  - source:
Blue, Gray, Lavender Layers in southern section of park
 Some of the most famous fossil beds are found in badlands. Erosion rapidly exposes the sedimentary layers and the scant cover of vegetation makes surveying and fossil hunting relatively easy. Fossils indicate that this once flooded plain had Crocodile-like reptiles; giant, fish-eating amphibians; and small dinosaurs living among a variety of ferns, cycads, and other plants and animals.

What can I say about this natural museum? 

Petrified Forest National Park is a geological wonderland must see. Like what I said before about Death Valley National Park, Earth does not always have to be clothed with lush vegetation to be beautiful! In the desert's starkness and barrenness, it is easier to uncover our past which teaches us to prepare for our future.

" Petrified Forest National Park is one great SCIENCE park. It is best known for globally significant Late Triassic fossils which attracts many researchers. Geologists study the multi-hued Chinle Formation. Archeologists research over 13,000 years of history. Biologists explore one of the best remnants of native Arizona grassland. Air quality is an ongoing study in the park." - source:

As a Chemistry buff, I super enjoyed this park, where every step made me think of the various chemical reactions that occurred and still occurring to cause these swirling of colors. Blueberry and chocolate sundae, anyone?
Or, purple taro cake? ( Ube cake?) Haha!

Let me share some more photos from Petrified Forest National Park:
 Me @ the rim of Blue Mesa
what is below?........ let us go down......
Trail that Goes Down Blue Mesa Badlands
 Walking So Close To the Badlands Brought Simple Joys, plus it gave my Chemistry loving mind some boost :)
 More Petrified Woods and Colored Earth 
 Petrified Woods and Badlands at Blue Mesa Trail
 Me, The Pictures I took Kneeling here are the three successive photos below: 
 Colors of Petrified Wood, Up Close
  Petrified Woods and Badlands at Blue Mesa Trail
 Petrified Wood and Badlands at Blue Mesa Trail
My Shadow @ the Painted Desert
How to go here?

Nearest Big City with an airport: Flagstaff, Arizona (about 108 miles from Petrified Forest). Flagstaff is the ideal place to stay if you plan to visit several parks in the area. The map below shows how these parks connect to Flagstaff, Arizona.
Distances from Flagstaff to some of the mind boggling desert landscapes of the Grand Circle:
Flagstaff - Grand Canyon National Park ( 80 miles)
Flagstaff- Petrified Forest National Park ( 108 miles)
Flagstaff - Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument ( 25 miles)
Flagstaff - Sedona ( 30 miles)

Nearest Town to Petrified Forest National Park: Holbrook, Arizona ( about 19 miles ). We came from Sedona before coming here. We stayed at Holbrook for a night, explored Petrified again the next day, then, Meteor Crater, and slept over at Flagstaff. The next day, we explored Marble Canyon and Vermillon Cliffs, and stayed at Page, Arizona where we explored once again Lake Powell, Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

Visiting Petrified Forest National Park was part of our " INTO THE DESERT WILD " road trip, which hubby describes as: "THE DESERT SOLITAIRE."

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  1. oh am geeeee! thanks for sharing this unique "treasure" Beth! my jaw literally dropped. i am in awe!

  2. i'm back from FBF, can't get enough of this post really. it's very different from your other hikes, the uniqueness that the place has to offer makes it so special. the petrified wood, the "taro cake", the painted dessert... the list may never end coz your photos paint a thousand multiplied words. ;)

  3. Fosilized trees can turn into rocks? That's something new to me.

  4. Seeing the history of the planet is really amazing.

  5. I may have lost shall I be in this place. This is a place that inspires, full of stories, and histories.

  6. Wow, pretty and amazing shots you have here. Those petrified woods are so beautiful and interesting. Looks like you really had a great time there.

  7. amazing photos! i agree with you, Earth, sans greens can really be beautiful. And, I thought, the places were not of earth. Marvelous sights, really.

  8. Awwww such an amazing place to visit! I've never seen nor touch a real tree that turned into a stone. I didn't know that it was even possible.

  9. Heavenly, what a grand art work of God! MY daughter collects rocks and one of them is petrified wood.

  10. oh,my! I can imagine how wonderful this experience...really amazing photos!

  11. Like your many posts published previously, I am toungetied once more! Seeing these photos for real would be a dream come true for me. Thanks for bringing me to places I have never ever imagined I'd be able to go to, Te Betchai. It is so refreshing to see God's masterpieces that's chronicled through humankind's eye for beauty. Applause! ;-)

  12. some superb shots... the first one is like a huge piece of cake :P

  13. Amazinggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg views and pictures :) What a beautiful site and place to explore :) Nature and its best....super love :)

  14. Just simply Amazing wonder of Nature!!!!!!!!

  15. i really felt small with those landscape shots. Earth is truly wonderful.

  16. The fossilized wood is such a wonder! Can't get enough of your pictures! Was this part of your spring break? I would say such a beauty and inspiration! Maybe Fall would be a nice season to go.

  17. i literally say wow on the first picture alone, what more as i scroll down. thanks for showing to us the part of these places, i'm in awe! really awesome to see it, God is really great! you're blessed to see these wonders He created. :)

  18. Wow! Another new place for me. Would love to be here!!