Painted Desert

(nr Holbrook AZ)
The Painted Desert straddles I-40 and includes pull-outs with views of the surrounding badlands. I drove through and stopped at most view points to snap photos. The desert there has varied colors and formations.

Red mesa in the desert

Mesa in the Painted Desert

Thought I would be there at the right time for good light. But alas, most shots didn’t seem as intense as they should have been. It was a bit hazy, which may account for it.

Variegated color cliffs

Colorful cliffs in the Painted Desert

Many of the stops had trails that you could take out into the desert or down a canyon. I didn’t venture though, as it was rather hot, and I wanted to explore the whole area.

Colorful rock mounds

Rock formations in the desert

The native ruins at the Rio Puerco were interesting, and included a partially excavated pueblo, a few petroglyphs, and a solar clock. They were putting the finishing touches on a research library at the site.


Ruins at Rio Puerco Pueblo

The restored Painted Desert Inn was nice with period furnishings, dining and soda fountain areas, and murals by a native artist. I was pleased to see that there is an Artist-in-Residence program for the Painted Desert.


Murals inside the Painted Desert Inn

Petrified Forest

As you drive south the road enters Petrified Forest National Park. There are several sites with fields of petrified trees. Some in fragments, and some rather large trunks. Trails allow you to wander amongst them.

Parts of trees strewn about

Field of petrified tree segments

The driving tour is 28 miles, with short side trips possible with names like Blue Mesa, Newspaper Rock, and Jasper Forest. Back country-wilderness camping is allowed with a free permit.

Tree turned to stone

Close-up of petrified tree trunk

There are visitor centers at both ends of the park, and a museum. It’s an interesting place, but you need to take the time exploring to appreciate all it has to offer.


Huge trunk at Petrified Forest

At the end of the day, I dry camped over night for free in the campground provided by the Crystal Forest Gift Shop at the south entrance to the national park. There are a few sites with electric for a fee.

Camp: Crystal Forest CG
Scene: Desert, cliffs, petrified trees, ruins

5 Responses to Painted Desert

  1. J. RICHARD SECOR May 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    Visited this area many times – beautiful country – nice photos

  2. Brad May 5, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    Oh, this brings back memories! I’ve been here several times. The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing the pictures! You mentioned how sometimes things are hazy and don’t appear quite as vivid. I have to confess to using Photo Pos Pro software the touch up the contrast now and then but a couple percent. 😉

    – VT

  3. Pleinguy May 5, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    Yes the scenery is dramatic there. I did tweak the pix, but they’re still not like with a good dose of sunshine.

  4. Jimbo May 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    I am enjoying your posts. I have visited many of the spots you have seen and it brings back great memories

    • Pleinguy May 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

      Thanks for following the blog; and for commenting. Glad it sparked some good memories for you.

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