Photographing the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Arizona

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This was the LAST major stop on our 2016 road trip of awesome! I was REALLY looking forward to visiting the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Arizona, it was actually one of the top items on my mega list of places to stop.

And while it was quite stunning to see, in the grand scheme of our trip it wasn’t as epic as, say, Monument Valley and Mesa Verde. Taken alone, perhaps I would have been more floored, but after seeing those marvel, this one kind of paled in comparison… though the colors and those trees! Still a sight to behold!
We didn’t really spend too much time in the desert, it was really just a drive through with stop for pictures, sightseeing, and short walks. Unlike other National Parks, this one had a very hands off approach (no touching the rocks, petrified wood, or, anything really!) so there wasn’t much beyond snapping pictures and walking and driving. While we probably won’t go out of our way to visit again, we are VERY glad we did drive through to check it out!
So now some background on this place! Enter, once again, my good friend Wikipedia!
The Painted Desert is a desert of badlands in the Four Corners area of Arizona running from near the east end of the Grand Canyon National Park southeast into the Petrified Forest National Park. The Painted Desert is known for its brilliant and varied colors, that not only include the more common red rock, but even shades of lavender.

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The Painted Desert was named by an expedition under Francisco Vázquez de Coronado on his 1540 quest to find the Seven Cities of Cibola, which he located some forty miles east of The Petrified Forest National Park. Finding the cities were not made of gold, Coronado sent an expedition to find the Colorado River to resupply him. Passing through the wonderland of colors, they named the area “El Desierto Pintado” – The Painted Desert.
The desert is composed of stratified layers of easily erodible siltstone, mudstone, and shale of the Triassic Chinle Formation. These fine grained rock layers contain abundant iron and manganese compounds which provide the pigments for the various colors of the region. Thin resistant lacustrine limestone layers and volcanic flows cap the mesas. Numerous layers of silicic volcanic ash occur in the Chinle and provide the silica for the petrified logs of the area. The erosion of these layers has resulted in the formation of the badlands topography of the region.

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In the southern portions of the desert the remains of a Triassic period coniferous forest have fossilized over millions of years. Wind, water and soil erosion continue to change the face of the landscape by shifting sediment and exposing layers of the Chinle Formation. An assortment of fossilized prehistoric plants and animals are found in the region, as well as dinosaur tracks and the evidence of early human habitation.

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The Petrified Forest National Park, which runs into the Painted Desert is named for its large deposits of petrified wood, with an area of about 170 square miles encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.
We had a lot of fun sightseeing, and even the kiddos had fun looking at the colors of the rolling hills, but it was a lot of time in the car, and time outside of the car was frikkin hot. So it wasn’t the excursion we were hoping it would be.. but still, a must see for this portion of the United States!

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Thanks for checking out the last of my 2016 roadtrip photos! Hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them!

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

35 thoughts on “Photographing the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Arizona

    • 24 September, 2016 at 10:29 pm
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      Sure thing, thanks for stopping by Carrie!! <3 <3 <3

  • 25 September, 2016 at 1:07 am
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    The colors are amazing Gingi… it’s too bad it was a more of hands off… but it does have a great deal of beauty … the pictures are lovely… xox

    • 25 September, 2016 at 4:50 pm
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      Yeah, we did enjoy it.. just wish I could have climbed over all the piles of petrified wood, haha!

    • 25 September, 2016 at 4:51 pm
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      Awwww, thank you! That bird was so fun, we fed him trail mix, and he got really close!

    • 25 September, 2016 at 4:51 pm
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      Thanks Gil! Coming from you that means a LOT!

  • 25 September, 2016 at 7:26 am
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    WOW such amazing colours 😀

    • 25 September, 2016 at 4:51 pm
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      Right?! Cant believe its real!

    • 26 September, 2016 at 3:42 pm
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      Yeah, it is hard to believe that this is in the United States!!

  • 25 September, 2016 at 8:24 pm
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    What an amazingly beautiful place. Harsh, probably unforgiving, and very, very beautiful.
    Thank you so sharing it.

    • 26 September, 2016 at 3:42 pm
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      What a poetic way to put it! I would HATE to be stranded out on those beautiful hills! *shudder*

    • 26 September, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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      <3 <3 <3 Thanks for stopping by my friend! <3

    • 26 September, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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      I know, right?! Thanks for stopping by sweetie! <3

    • 26 September, 2016 at 3:44 pm
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      Thank you, I had so much fun taking them!

    • 26 September, 2016 at 3:44 pm
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      I know, right?! Wish we were able to actually get out and explore on foot more!

  • 26 September, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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    Gorgeous pictures! Thanks for “taking us along” with you. For some reason, I’m suddenly verrrrry thirsty…

    • 26 September, 2016 at 6:26 pm
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      Hahaha, it was SO HOT out there, it was like stepping into a furnace every time we opened the car door!!

  • 26 September, 2016 at 5:37 pm
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    Wow, these images are truly breathtaking! I learnt something new, as I always do when I visit you here. Now I know why it’s called the “painted desert!” Thanks so much for sharing, beauty, and I hope you’re having the most amazing start to your week so far!

    XO,

    Jalisa
    http://www.thestylecontour.com

    • 26 September, 2016 at 6:27 pm
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      Awwww, thank you Jalisa.. I am such a sucker for Wikipedia, and I love learning new things about the places I visit! Thanks for taking the time to read and enjoy with me!!

    • 26 September, 2016 at 6:27 pm
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      Thanks for sharing! <3

  • 26 September, 2016 at 7:18 pm
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    Wow, I would love to go there. I will photoshop myself into your pics and somehow make the best of it. Yes?

    • 26 September, 2016 at 9:27 pm
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      HAHAHAHA, omg, I would kill to see that!! DO IT!!! 😉

    • 26 September, 2016 at 9:27 pm
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      Thanks Fabrizia!!! <3 <3

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