If you go to Petrified Forest - plan to spend the day, don't just drive through in a couple of hours. Forget the park map and improved trails. Stop in the visitor center and ask for some "off the beaten path" hike information. This is from the Historic Blue Forest Trail, an old CCC trail constructed in the 1930s and abandoned in 1955, this hike (technically, it's no longer a "trail" since most of the CCC gravel trail has washed down the slopes) connects the Tepees to the (current) Blue Mesa trail.
The hike winds through colorful blue and white badlands and offers a new view at every turn. At this section, we crossed some knife-edge ridges of purple mudstones and siltstones of the Blue Mesa Member of the Chinle Formation and white sandstones of the Sonsela Member - which is younger than the Blue Mesa Member. These rocks represent floodplains of an ancient river channel that wound through this area more than 223 million years ago. Getting to this area, we crossed nearly four million years of geological time during our hike from the car. In addition to petrified wood, we also found a lot of tiny "early" dinosaur bones! So much fun for us to discover them. Remember: Federal law prohibits collection or removal of the wood or any archeological or historical objects from its setting. Take only pictures!
This image was shot during my tenure as resident artist in the "Artist in Residence" program at the Petrified Forest National Park
August 1st, 2015
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