The Un-Painted Desert


Now why would I go visit the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park in a snow storm?  Good question. These places are know for their colors — the layers of multicolored sand and soil in the Painted Desert and the bright colors of the petrified trees. I thought “wouldn’t it be interesting to see these places in the winter with just a little dusting of snow?” I wanted some snow pictures and would be at the Grand Canyon in a few days so I figured this would give me some practice. I was already in the neighborhood. You know that if you saw my last blog post. So I went.

As I approached the park entry gate the snow was coming down like crazy. I mentioned to the Ranger at the gate that I was hoping for just a little dusting of snow. He said that that’s what this is….not a full blown desert blizzard. Okidokie.

I stayed in Winslow the night before and we had a nice little polite snow…maybe an inch. At the Petrified Forest the polite snow decided to stay for a while and was coming down in a brisk 25 mph wind. I plunged into the cold and made the thirty feet to the door of the visitor’s center. It was warm in there. They have all sorts of information about the Petrified Forest and what animals used to live there and what animals still do. I was intrigued by the full skeletal recreations of the dinosaurs that roamed the area. As dinosaurs go, these were pretty small.  The little guy could fly like a bird.


This one was a little further down the evolutionary trail and was transitioning into a mammal…or so the sign says.


Well…I couldn’t stay in the warm visitors’ center all day so I bundled up and ventured out into the snow.  It was brutally cold with snow flying like pellets. I hope you appreciate what I go through to get this important information out there.  It’s a rotten job…yada, yada, yada.

This was looking like a full fledged snowstorm…not a light dusting.

These are color photographs.

The deeper I went into the park the lighter the snow fall. At times it stopped altogether.


Sometimes when you go to parks or natural areas there are features with various names. Well, I admit that I often don’t see the resemblance.  But this actually resembled a cathedral in my mind….you know…with flying buttresses?


So I continued on my way…I was driving, not walking…but I was always stopping in the road and getting more pictures. For some reason there wasn’t anyone else there.



I was happy to arrive at the Painted Desert Inn and get warmed up. There were a few brave souls there including a weaver with a British accent  and a jewelry maker from the local Navajo community and an artist downstairs in the exhibit room. The Ranger was full of information but she didn’t have any coffee or hot chocolate….which would have been welcome.

I needed to be on the road to Flagstaff, a couple hours of driving away, so I headed back into the cold and snow. I found some coffee in Holbrook and it was getting sunny by the time I got to Flagstaff.

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