When visiting the desert of Arizona, it is hard to imagine that it was once a lush and green world. In fact, thousands of years ago, they were wetlands that had lots of streams and very tall trees. Over time, logs that were damaged by storms were carried by floodwater and got stuck in the sandy plains. They were eventually buried by silt and volcanic ash. Water that had silica got into them and were eventually petrified.
This is the story that led to the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. Visiting the area will amaze you with all those preserved memories from a time long forgotten. But beyond that, the painted desert is another must-see attraction in this place.
In this part of the country where very few can live, the rocks contain various minerals that produce the different colors that will wow the visitors. Contrast the wonderful hues with the blue of the sky, and you have something that resembles a painting more than reality.
About 1300 to 1800 years ago, there were also people who lived here, in a village that was discovered recently by archaeologists. Pit houses were found, where hunter-gatherers came to live as part of a larger group, transitioning from their former nomadic existence to a social one resembling our communities now. The people who live here precede even the Native American tribes that claim cultural ties to the areas of the Petrified National Forest.
This area has so much history that scientists and archaeologists are still working on digging and discovering all that the desert has buried. Several ancient villages and fossils have already been found, fueling the belief that future exploration of the park will yield more surprises in the future. Even then, visitors are already in for a lot of amazing things to see when they drop by.
Visiting the area is mostly possible by car because you will need to take the 28 miles of road to view the Painted Desert and going down south to access the Petrified Forest. It’s completely different here to other places you might choose to take a vacation. There is so much explore and see that you should allocate at least 2 hours to drive from the desert to the forest. If you prefer to go by foot, there are also some hiking trails.
Even more recent history can be enjoyed in the park, because a part of the Historic Route 66 actually passes through it, and even through the Painted Desert. Those driving by will surely be entranced by the colorful hills that it will be tough to not see more of it.
A fun fact for visitors walking through the Petrified Forest is a local belief that the pieces of petrified wood bring bad luck to those who take them. Many tourists are so awed by the rock-hard wood pieces that they decide to take a souvenir. In fact, up to 12 tons are lost yearly to theft. Interestingly, many of them get sent back to the Park office by thieves who encountered a lot of bad karma since taking their souvenirs.
The Petrified Forest National Park is a great way to see how much one place can change so greatly and still hide so many memories of more bountiful times. So make sure to visit the area for a unique and unforgettable adventure!