Scenic USA - Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park

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Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Photo by Cliff Hamilton
Cliff Hamilton Photography
Inset photos by Rob Jones

   A sizable section of Arizona's Chinde Natural Bridge - Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona northeast is taken up by lands of the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Miles of dramatic canyons and colorful desert sands stretch out across this land along the Little Colorado River, from Holbrook to Marble Canyon. Just south of the Hopi Reservation and the Navajo Nation, the Petrified Forest National Park covers nearly 100,000 acres of Painted Desert hills and offers a look at one of the largest collections of petrified wood in the world.
   It's hard to imagine that this arid red-rock country was once covered in lakes, streams and immense pine trees which reached 200 feet in the air. Previously dominated by dinosaurs and a lush tropical forest, the park now houses a collection of 70 million year old trees fossilized with colored silica rock. Stained Keystone Natural Bridge - Petrified Forest National Park, Arizonawith nature's paint palette, wood cells were replaced with minerals colored in reds, yellows and browns. Cobalt and chromium created blue and green crystals. Carbon and manganese added blacks and pinks to the petrified wood. Iron not only stains the petrified wood, but also adds various shades of red to the rocks and soil here in the desert.
   This marvelous collection of painted land and petrified forest spans Arizona's Interstate 40 and the Puerco River. The park is easily accessed from the Interstate 40, where the park road winds through 28 miles of desert, with plenty of pullouts and grand viewpoints.

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