Posts Tagged With: painted desert

National Monument Weekend Part 2: Wupatki

The subaruing adventures continue and this weekend I had the opportunity to explore two amazing national monuments, Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki.

Wupatki is just down the road from Sunset Volcano. In fact, it’s super easy to visit both of these monuments as they both lie share a scenic 34 mile loop road. As the road descends from Sunset Crater, it begins to dive into the Painted Desert and into the home of the Wupatki people. Here, in this desert landscape, they built homes and communities. Many historic ruins remain and most are easily accessible by car and paved loop trails.

The largest of the structures are located just behind the visitor’s center. This makes it easy to get your Passport stamp, and visit one of the largest remains of the Wupatki.

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Petrified Forest National Park & The Painted Desert

This past weekend I had the opportunity to explore one of our nation’s most unique national parks, Petrified Forest. PFNP is located in a desert area called The Painted Desert in northeastern Arizona. The Painted Desert gets its name from mineral deposits like iron and manganese. These deposits have left much of the desert painted with colorful soil and rock formations.

Within the Painted Desert lies the Petrified Forest National Park. PFNP itself lies in an ancient and very large river system. Dying trees would float downstream causing log jams and many of the forest locations throughout the park are the junctions where these jams took place. 

Today, the park protects less than 30% of petrified wood in the area. If you’re visiting the desert southwest, PFNP is a must-see. There’s a great 28 mile scenic route that connects many easy, short paved pathways and trails. I’d recommend checking out Blue Mesa, Puerco Pueblo, Crystal Forest, Agate House, Long Logs and Giant Logs.

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