June 10, 2018
The Painted Desert is part of Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, bisected by I-40 and Historic Route 66 (which run parallel to each other in this area). My husband and I first visited this national park in 2006 when we were in Arizona for another of my high school reunions in Sedona. Even though we took oodles of pictures at that time, he claims he doesn’t remember having gone there. Oh well!
Petrified Forest National Park is the only national park that a portion of Route 66 goes through.
The northern part of the park contains parts of the Painted Desert, some of the most beautiful and stark desert scenery found anywhere.
The bands of colors are a result of layers of different sediments of soil which built up over thousands of years.
The national park itself is named for the fossilized ancient forests, now chunks of colorful quartz rock.One of the attractions listed on our AAA Route 66 map was the Painted Desert Inn (25 miles east of Holbrook, I-40 Exit 311; north on Park Rd. to visitor center). This adobe structure was built in the early 1920s and provided lodging to travelers on Route 66 until 1963.
The restored inn is a now a park museum, with Hopi Indian murals, skylights and large viewing windows.
From here, you can take a trail that winds down into a section of the Painted Desert.
At one of the stops on the road through the park, one can view petroglyphs from above.
There are many large black ravens in this area. They’ve learned that humans will give them a treat sometimes! We didn’t. This beggar was in the parking lot of the Inn.
We continued on toward New Mexico and our destination for the night, Gallup. On the way, we passed through a couple of small eastern Arizona towns which also have connections to Route 66, such as Chambers (click on link here for information related to 66) and Houck, home of F Troop and Fort Courage.
We checked into the Best Western in Gallup, NM, which is right across the street from the famous El Rancho Hotel, which I will write about in my next Route 66 post.