Monday, July 25, 2016

Petrified Forest National Park, Part I

Our big family summer vacation this year was a road trip through Arizona and Utah, with four National Parks which I'd never visited before on the docket. If I ever doubt that my family loves me, I just need to remember that they all agreed to do this in triple-digit temperatures.

We drove 11 hours our first day to Gallup, New Mexico, setting ourselves up to make a nice stop at Petrified Forest National Park on Day 2. The park is fortuitously located directly along our route to the Grand Canyon, which made it a no-brainer to be one of our destinations.

Tiponi Point, Petrified Forest National Park
I-40 cuts directly through the park.  Interestingly, the northern section doesn't actually have any petrified wood.  But it does have stunning views of the Painted Desert, like this one from Tiponi Point.

Raven, Petrified Forest National Park
Common Ravens were our constant companions, like this one at Chinde Point.  I love the iridescent effect in their feathers when the light hits them just right.

1932 Studebaker, Petrified Forest National Park
At the intersection of the park road and Old Route 66 there sits a rusted 1932 Studebaker.  I took a lot of different pictures of it, but like this black-and-white close-up of one of its old mechanisms the best.

Puerco Pueblo Petroglyphs, Petrified Forest National Park
Puerco Pueblo has a number of rocks with petroglyphs that may date back more than 600 years.

Collared Lizard, Petrified Forest National Park
The petroglyphs held my mild interest until I noticed a small Collared Lizard.  I wasn't even sure it was a Collared Lizard at first, because I'm used to seeing them with a lot of blue and green on their back, hind legs, and tail.  This one had a combination of hues I'd never seen before, including two bright yellow forelegs and red and black stripes on its upper body.

Collared Lizard, Petrified Forest National Park
A nearby ranger assured me it was, in fact, a Collared Lizard.  Turns out it's specifically a Sonoran Collared Lizard, hence the difference in color and markings.  I had my wide angle lens on my camera, but fortunately the lizard stayed quite still and allowed me to get really close for some solid shots.

Newspaper Rock, Petrified Forest National Park
I love that this massive boulder full of petroglyphs is known as Newspaper Rock.  It definitely seems like a lot is being communicated on it!

The Tepees, Petrified Forest National Park
Despite the harsh midday sun, I was still able to get some nice, rich colors at the formation known as The Tepees.  Thank you, polarizing filter!

Blue Mesa, Petrified Forest National Park
We finally saw our first actual petrified wood at Blue Mesa.  Unfortunately, we also saw park newspapers littering this slope.  There's a sign telling people not to enter this area, and the footing looked treacherous.  So I didn't try to scramble down and retrieve them.  Instead, I had to creatively compose my shot to hide them behind plants and rock logs.

Click here for Part II.

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