Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Petrified Forest National Park

I thought I would get in one more quick trip to a national park before my pass expired in June. I visited the Petrified Forest National Park, which is just outside of Holbrook, AZ. Here you can see large petrified logs from a time when this part of Arizona was lush tropical forest. About 225 million years ago, this part of Arizona was near the equator.
When the continents broke apart and shifted, the climate changed. Some trees fell into rivers and were buried in the sediment. Mineral seeped in and replaced the wood. This caused the mineralization - petrified wood.

Here you can see the quartz in the sections of a log.
The agate bridge is petrified wood (concrete was placed under the bridge in 1917 for support)
As you drive through the park, some of the reds are replaced by blues. You can see streaks of blue in the striations of the sandstone in the Blue Mesa section of the park.

Along the road, are some fabulous formations that show the striated sandstone. This area of the park is called the TeePees, because of the shape of the rocks.

As you drive north of through the park, and cross I-40, you enter the Painted Desert.
The first overlook is at Lacey Point. I was greeted by this raven there.
View of the painted desert from Lacey Point. You can see how it gets its name.
While not part of the park, these two rock formations caught my eye as I drove along Highway 87 north of Winslow.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly (pronounced d'Shay) National Monument is located on the Navajo Nation, just outside of Chinle AZ.
I only had the chance to drive along the south rim, but next trip I will try to have enough time to drive the north rim and take a tour of the canyon floor.
Inside the canyon are several ruins of cliff dwellings. You can't see them very well in this picture from the rim, but you would see it much better from within the canyon. Click on the picture for a slightly better image. Better yet, view the Ansel Adams photo of the dwellings.
One of the overlooks is called Face Rock. Since there wasn't a guide here, everyone was trying to guess which rock had the face. One couple thought the face was in the rock in the middle of the above picture (you can see the eyes, a wide nose (the left nostril appears to have a trail running out of it, and the green belt of trees is the mouth).
Cool erosion patterns - the left one is connected to the "nostril" if that's really the face.
I thought the rock in the center of this picture was Face Rock; the shadow it casts is a silhouette of a face.
If you know which rock is Face Rock, please leave a comment! :-)

I found another rock that also resembled a silhouette of a face. The shadow cast by this rock reminded me of Fred Flintstone. Maybe it should be called Flintstone Rock?
I didn't see much wildlife - other than lots of crows - but there were lots of free range cattle, sheep, and horses.
The horses were all quite skinny!
The highlight was Spider Rock. This was an amazing double spire rising from the canyon floor.