Petrified Forest

Newspaper Rock

The Petrified Forest is located on the south side of I-40; the Painted Desert is on the north side. Both areas are part of the Petrified Forest National Park. After having seen the Painted Desert, we continued on to the Petrified Forest. First stop was Newspaper Rock. The overlook is a ways above the actual rock with petroglyphs marked on it. Even with a telephoto lens, the figures look quite small. The rock and markings are bigger than they seem in the photo.

Blue Mesa Area

In my previous visits I had never taken the Blue Mesa scenic loop. Today we drove around that loop and exclaimed over the sights. It was quite hot in the sun, so no hiking the trail.

The Petrified Forest appeared different from how I remembered it from past visits. The Jasper Forest is an overlook today, but I recall a trail among the logs. I will have to look up pictures from former visits to confirm (or debunk) my impression.

At the Crystal Forest we could walk among the petrified logs. The heat and walking was getting to Dad, so we had to cut short the walk through the Crystal Forest. We headed out of the park and on to Flagstaff on I-40.

The itinerary included stops at Homolovi Ruins, Meteor Crater, and Walnut Canyon, but that was too ambitious a plan. Due to the late hour, we went straight to the Motel 6 in Flagstaff. Like last night, the skies were cloudy with rain showers. This caused us to cancel plans to visit the Lowell Observatory in the evening.

Painted Desert


The folks at Halona fed us a sumptuous breakfast, after which we took a little stroll around town.  Native American people are very sensitive about photography, so i did not take any pictures.  With the cooked to order breakfast and walk about town, it was a late start on the road.  We had a quick lunch at Subway before arriving at the Petrified Forest National Park.

The Painted Desert is the northern part of the Petrified Forest NP, and it was as dramatic as usual.  I’ve always seen the Painted Desert in the middle of the day, and this time followed the pattern.  Some day I’ll see it in the morning or evening to appreciate the play of light and shadow on the hills.  (The first time I saw the Painted Desert was at midday in a car without air conditioning.  Hot!)

This is the first HDR photo I took with the Pentax. With three exposures a half stop apart, the composite shows the foreground and background both exposed properly.

There are many erosional features in this park.  Together with the colors of the different sedimentary layers, It makes for dramatic vistas.

For the first time, I visited the Painted Desert Inn.  There I talked to a photographer who gave me tips on taking pictures using High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique.  I’ll make another post about HDR once I get experience using it.  The iPhone takes HDR photos automatically, but it requires some post-processing with the Pentax.