Fall 2020: Petrified Forest

Preliminary

Petrified Forest National Park contains much more than petrified wood.  As I saw it, the park contains four different attractions:

  • Petrified logs
  • Badlands formations
  • The fantastic pastel colors of the Painted Desert
  • Curiously weathered rocks

These attractions do not exist everywhere in the park, but all are quite evident overall. There is plenty of variety. In so many places, I enjoyed simply wandering and marveling at the colors and shapes around me.

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Petrified log fragments strewn about in a badlands area with colors from whilte to brown and reddish brown
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The Onxy Bridge is the goal of hikers on the Onyx Bridge Trail, but the journey itself was worthwhile. Note the pink bandlands formations in the background.
A jumble of colors stretching as far as the eye can see
A jumble of colors stretching as far as the eye can see
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Except for the sky, this almost looks like an old black and white photo. It seems out of place in a land of fantastic colors.
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Huh? Is this earth? It’s certainly not Kansas. And what is going on with those boulders casually thrown over the landscape? The Devil’s Playhouse is an area of fantastically shaped rocks amidst predominantly blue badlands. It is, to say the least, interesting. It is said that the devil imitates (while inverting) God, but this place is an imitation of nothing. FWIW, the NPS only discloses the exact location of the Devil’s Playhouse to those who are given a permit to go there, and only three such parties per week are allowed, so consider yourself privileged to see photos of it.
A blue volcano?
A blue volcano?
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These rocks seems to be awaiting a launch into space. Perhaps aliens left them there.
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Here’s a puzzle: How did these rocks come to rest so nicely on the badlands mud?
What is this (whatever it is) doing here?
What is this (whatever it is) doing here?
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So much is happening here. Blueish gray layers alternate with brown and white. Rocks are strewn helter-skelter. Erosional patterns appear from top to bottom. Toadstools pepper the landscape.
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This trail (actually a route) is called Red Basin Clam Beds. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Well, they say large rocks like these contain thousands of fossil clams. I guess that’s what those oval shapes are.
A particularly vibrantly colored piece of petrified wood
A particularly vibrantly colored piece of petrified wood
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The sand castles of Red Basin are in the foreground. But why would they call this place Red Basin?
This place is called Red Basin, but to me it was Fantasyland.
This place is called Red Basin, but to me it was Fantasyland.
It's time to get down and follow the winding wash
It’s time to get down and follow the winding wash
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Amidst all of the fantastic badlands lies a scattered assortmen of petrified wood. Perhaps a single petrified log had a violent fall here.
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If you do nothing else when you visit a National Park, be sure to take the scenic drive and stop at some of the various viewpoints. You may find something interesting. BTW, how did those scattered boulders down there get where they are?
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I usually avoid the short 1-mile trails for the masses (especially when they are paved), but the Blue Mesa Trail was convenient. It added another perspective to the area. The bright sunshine seemed to draw out the rich colors even though the dominant sensation was white. Oh, how they popped!
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I bid farewell to Petrfied Forest National Park with a wave from a pullout along the road. It was quite a place.