Yesterday was the 10th National Park we visited in less than 2 weeks on our 4,500 mile Epic Road Trip- Our Late Start to Summer
One of the books I own about the National Parks said that this National Park “is most susceptible to visitor drive throughs” or something along those lines. I can understand that. It’s not that it is not an impressive location. It truly is impressive and unique. It’s because of its proximity to the Grand Canyon (just a few hours) that people often stop by on their way to or from the Grand Canyon. We are guilty of doing this as well, but we did get out and do some hiking, Brielle did the Junior Ranger Program, and we stopped into the visitor’s center to learn exactly what this Park is all about. We also did the 27 mile scenic road that runs the length of the park north/south.
Wierdly enough, this may have been one of my more favorite national parks. What can I say, except I like the unusual. This National Park is located in Navajo and Apache counties and is rich in Native American history. They had petroglyphs (Indian writings on cliffs) over 2,000 years old. They also had remnants of former Indian civilizations on the property that were being uncovered and preserved.
Of course the location is known first and foremost for the petrified wood. I honestly thought this Park would be boring. I mean, who really likes to go look at broken pieces of trees on the ground. However, the petrified trees were the most interesting thing of all! I had no idea they are dates at hundreds of millions of years old and that they actually have turned to stone because of the various minerals they absorbed when they were tunneled under rock beds for many, many, many years. Here is the visitor center’s explaination of how these petrified wood pieces came to existence.
Some of the trees were broken apart and the pieces drifted far apart from one another, whereas others were still mostly in the same place. This one had the start of the root ball still intact and petrified as well!
Something that also makes this Park interesting is that part of the Painted Desert is here (Northern section of the park). There are also lots of colorful badlands all throughout this Park. Here are the rest of the photos from our visit there:
My best tip for this Park: If you are going to the Grand Canyon then stop into this National Park since it is a close enough distance (177 miles, less than 3 hours away, and right off of I-40). It is worth setting aside a day to visit this location. Be sure to learn about how the wood was formed, as that makes the experience much more meaningful.
Bonus Tip: Shop at Chee’s for petrified wood off of park property. The museum gift store on the Park property is amazing. You can buy polished petrified wood there, but it is not cheap. This wood did not come from the National Park, but from surrounding areas. We shopped at Chee’s and purchased some substantial petrified wood pieces (also from Navajo land in the area), which were not polished (I like the wood in its natural state). The prices were much more reasonable when compared the Park. Chee’s is off of I-40 on exit 351.
We met (who I believe) was owner of Chee’s. He came out to weight the big rocks for us. He chatted for a while with Justin and told us that the Navajo Indians bring him these peices of petrified wood from their property from time to time and he pays them by the pound. He has been in business since before 1970, as he showed us one of the huge pieces he has that has been for sale since 1970 and not sold. I Imagine it hasn’t sold because of its weight! The two pieces we bought are not huge, but they weigh 80 lbs (the one on the hearth which is Justin’s pick) and 15 lbs (the one I chose for our coffee table).
Here are the amazing wood pieces we bought, already on display at home (we arrive home just a couple of hours ago):