Monday, November 17, 2014

Petrified Forest

We drove late into the night after Carlsbad Caverns through New Mexico to cover as much ground as possible towards Arizona. Our first stop in Arizona was the Petrified Forest, but it had been a while since we’d hit the shower so we decided to find a campground, clean up, and relax for the day. I was excited to be able to actually set up a campsite outside of the van and spread out. Little did I know that much of Arizona is wide open, treeless, and incredibly windy. We did get to relax at our campsite and had showers, but the relentless wind kept us holed up in the van. Two out of three ain’t bad, right?
The following day we hit the Petrified Forest, free to us with our Annual Pass, to explore the mummified trees from millions of years ago. The large logs and fragments were surprisingly colorful and plentiful.

There were fields full of these rock-like artifacts, and even more being uncovered by the whipping wind.

We were also surprised to find that one of the walking paths in the park lead through scenic badlands.

I always thought badlands were a specific area in the Dakotas(?), but they are actually a type of land formation that can be found all around the world. There are also many other petrified forests around the world.
Driving through this beautiful National Park made me appreciate the park system, but seeing all of the areas of the park that I could not enter and explore frustrated me. This was a feeling I got at Mammoth Caves as well. There are hundreds, and possibly thousands, of acres of National Park and National Forest land that is preserved yet not accessible for seemingly no reason. Perhaps I’m more curious than most who simply drive through our preserved lands and take photos from the paved overlooks. To each their own, but I know there is so much more to see and experience as your feet get closer to America’s breathtaking landscapes.

Fees Waived with Annual Pass:

Carlsbad Caverns National Park $20
Petrified Forest National Park $10

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