The painted desert sits adjacent to the petrified forest in eastern Arizona.
The Painted Desert was naturally formed from earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and other changes to the landscapes. The Desert is made up of sandstone, mudstone, and clay containing bentonite. Bentonite is responsible for the colorful hues in the buttes and badlands.
Over 200 million years ago this desert was once covered in lush forest and rivers.
Volcanic eruptions knocked down the once luscious forests, forcing them down river and buried under ash and marsh lands, starting the petrification process.
About 60 million years ago the area was covered by ocean, eventually receding and revealing the petrified wood. The petrified forest has the largest concentration of petrified wood on earth.
I, personally, am still a little skeptical of these trees. As you’re following the scenic road there are hundreds of tree trunks seemingly cut into several pieces – smooth cuts. Upon returning, and doing more research, supposedly silica splits like this naturally. Supposedly.
If you’re out that way, this is a MUST SEE. I already want to go back and do some of the hiking trails. There’s something about standing in the middle of nowhere that makes you feel so small.
And just like that we were back on the road and adventure bound.
To be continued…