2009 Petrified Forest
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Petrified Forest National Park was another new one for us.  Until two years ago, the contest ended on Thursday at about 2 p.m., and if we were to make it to the Grand Canyon (or close to it) on Thursday in time to hike in the Canyon on Friday, we could not stop anywhere along the way between Las Cruces and the Canyon except for rest stops and to eat.

In 2007, the schedule changed and the contest ended Wednesday night, which made all day Thursday available for the long Las Cruces-Grand Canyon drive.  Last year we returned to Phoenix and home on Thursday, having hiked in the Canyon at the beginning, rather than the end, of the week. 

But this year we returned to end-of-week hiking, so the full day available gave us the chance to break up the drive with a stop at the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook.  We had passed this park on previous trips, but it was always nighttime by the time we got there, and we wouldn't have had time to stop, anyway.

 

 

$50.00 for 11 of us.  Comes out to less than $5.00 each.  Not bad.
 

Cover of the brochure they hand you at the entrance.

     
The park's newspaper.
     
You can enter the park either from an exit right off of Interstate 40 and drive south through it, coming out at a point along U.S. 180 about 20 miles southeast of Holbrook, or you can enter at the south end and end up at I-40.  We entered from the north, and this is the entrance.
     
As the two sides of this insert in the brochure tell you, they are dead serious about not removing rocks, petrified wood, or anything else, from the park.
     
     
 
 
As the park road, which actually heads north from the exit off of I-40, gradually turns to the south, you can look out the right side of your car and see into the Painted Desert.  There are several locations along the road to pull off and take a few pictures.
     
     
 
A picture of us looking at and taking pictures of the Painted Desert.   Emo.  In the Petrified Forest no less.
     
     
 
     
     
After having been very windy most of the day, the weather was perfect and the winds pretty calm during our mid-afternoon visit.
     
     
Most hiking areas had paved trails.  Made it very easy to get around.  All those logs lying around are petrified wood, which gets that way as the wood lays buried and the cell structure is slowly replaced with minerals.  (I hope I got that right--Geologists everywhere, I apologize.)
     
     
 
More of those petrified logs.   A petrified log still partially buried.  Most of the exposed ones were broken in sections like this one.  It looked as though someone had methodically gone through them with a chain saw.  What's really happening, we think, is that they break under their own weight, and the glass-like structure of the petrified wood causes them to break cleanly.  (Again, apologies to geologists everwhere.)
     
     
A few of us at another hiking area near the south entrance.  That's the visitor center and gift shop behind us.
     
     
Darin taking a rest before we pressed on to Flagstaff for dinner.