I drove through Chinle and continued on Highway 191making a quick stop at the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Some of the old building at the trading post are interesting, and the trading post itself is full of expensive trinkets, although there was some nice pottery and weavings.
The wind kicked up and when I hit I-40 it was really bad, fortunately I didn't have too far to drive before the entrance to the Painted Desert kiosk. Basically the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest have been lumped into one park with Historic Route 66 thrown in. So I entered at the Painted Desert (North on I-40) and exited at the Petrified Forest (south). I'm not sure where one begins and the other ends, but the scenery is unique and worth the 30 mile or so drive south.
I drove all the way to the end and parked just outside the park at one of the gift shops for the night. There are two gift shops at the intersection of the park road and Highway 180 and both allow dry camping over night for free and one even has electric hook ups for a small fee. They also offer free small pieces of petrified wood. On Tuesday morning I backed tracked some and caught the Blue Mesa Trail and the Crystal Forest trail.
The Blue Mesa Trail has a distinct blueish purplish color, and my pictures don't do the colors justice. There are petrified logs all along the paved trail. The sign at the beginning of the trail indicated a steep grade. Well there is a grade, but the whole trail is paved and the grade is not that bad...well, maybe if you are in a wheel chair and someone is pushing you back up the hill.
Note the petrified logs towards the bottom of the picture
The logs piled up in the ravine
You can see the paved trail in the middle of the picture. The landscape is almost surreal.
A quick stop at Agate Bridge. The Petrified Log has been reinforced with concrete so not to break and fall. The plaque nearby stated that today the Park Service philosophy would dictate Agate Bridge remain in its natural state. In other words, left to deteriorate and fall into pieces. What do you think? Should icons like this be left alone or preserved for future generations?
I continued to the Crystal Forest named so because some of the petrified wood was crystallized and glistens in the sun. Huge chunks of petrified wood dotted the landscape