Despite being named a forest, Petrified Forest National Park, in the north east part of Arizona, doesn't offer many standing trees. In fact, the whole time I was there, I only saw one.
It's still makes for a great afternoon destination for motorcycle riders, however.
The Petrified Forest offers motorcyclists a 29-mile route through a landscape of mostly rolling hills, mesas, and grasslands.
It was Day 5 of our 3-week road trip from San Diego to Denver and back, and visiting the Petrified Forest was something that Sash had always wanted to visit since she was little.
The ride starts at the southern portion of the park and goes north towards the Painted Desert. In between, you'll find numerous hiking trails that take you out to some amazing forests of crystallized tree trunks that fell perhaps a hundred million years ago.
But the Petrified Forest National Park isn't just about trees that turned into rocks. It's really more about a unique place where time reveals itself. The layers of strata that settled over a billion years ago are easily seen in the coloration of unique rock formations. Blending from the more recent blacks to the older beige to the more older reds and to the really ancient blues, it's like seeing a billion years of time in a single glance.
It'll cost you $10.00 per car, or $5.00 per person, per motorcycle to get in. The road is largely smooth asphalt with some light bumpiness here and there. Speed limit is set to 45mph in most places and slows down at the Museum and Gift Shop. The road is filled with curves but is easy to maneuver for most riders. Expect windy conditions. When Sash and I rode through yesterday, temperatures were in the mid-70s.
We didn't really encounter much traffic being it was on a Friday, either.
At the north end of the park is the Painted Desert, named for its beautiful swashes of fiery reds, beiges, and blacks, and depending of the time of year, yellows from the grasses. There are several vista points, but the one you want to stop at is Pintado Point, offering by the far the most spectacular. The Painted Desert has its own visitor center with a cafe.
Holbrook, AZ offers the closest town to Petrified Forest National Park with lots of restaurants and hotels. It's located right along the historic Route 66 and provides lots of cool vintage Route 66 kitsch.
After Sash and I finished with the Petrified Forest, we headed north-east on our way to Farmington, NM for the evening. But before getting there, we lunched at a restaurant called "Chieftain Restaurant" in Chambers, AZ, just off the I-40 & US-191. Don't go there, food sucks.
To get to Farmington, we rolled into Gallup, NM and headed north on US-491. At the town of Newcomb, we went east on Navajo 5 until it ended at US-371. Then we took 371 into Farmington.
Along the way, the speedometer cable on Sash's bike broke. Somehow, where the cable connects to the front wheel, the threads on the coupling stripped, and won't screw back on. We'll have to wait until we get to Denver to get it fixed.
Tomorrow, Day 6, it looks like rain as we push north, hoping to reach Monte Vista, CO.
|Thousands of crystallized tree trunks like this are all over everywhere at Petrified Forest National Park|
|Sash pointing to something, at Petrified Forest National Park|
|The Tee Pee rock formations at Petrified Forest National Park|
|Yours Truly riding along inside Petrified Forest National Park|
|Sash doing her thing at Petrified Forest National Park|
|One of the viewpoints at Painted Desert National Park|
|The Chieftain Restaurant in Chambers, Arizona. They have some Navajo items on the menu, but food is not that great here.|
|Sands blow across US-491 north of Gallup, NM|
|Shiprock (left), because it's supposed to look like a ship. US-491, New Mexico|
|Sash demonstrates proper hydrating form while riding along the N5 through the Navajo Nation|
|Sash on her V-Star 650 along the N5 inside Navajo Nation|