Wednesday, November 1, 2017
After a third night of high gusty winds and very little sleep, we made the decision to quit the campground, and called the hotel in Phoenix to arrange coming in a night early (staying 2 nights). I also made a note to try and repair the busted zipper on the front opening of the tent.
Breaking camp was chaotic because the winds had ramped up. We finally got everything packed up though and headed out to Petrified Forest National Park.
I’ve had a fascination with the Petrified Forest since I learned about it as a child and looked forward to seeing this park. I wasn’t disappointed.
I spoke to a ranger at the Visitor Center and she told me the petrified wood was all over the place at the park. We also talked about petroglyphs and she gave us an information sheet on a great location that would be a slightly more than one-mile hike out into the desert on an unmarked, “off the beaten trail” – basically a back-country hike. Since Alan and I had never done a back-country trail hike, and this would mean up close and personal petroglyphs, we were all for it.
We parked the truck just off the road near a wash and hiked in. We followed the wash about two thirds of the way, spotted Marth’s Butte, and hiked up out of the wash and across the scrubby desert, scaring up a Jackrabbit. We watched him run away at a phenomenal speed, then continued on.
The ranger did not steer us wrong, there were petroglyphs spotted all around the butte. It was a bit like a strenuous “Where’s Waldo” as we hiked around and up and down the butte looking for the ancient carvings, but we found about two dozen. Being able to get up close and personal with this piece of history was a marvel. We were like two kids in a candy store.
Once we’d satisfied our little scavenger hunt we found our way back to the wash and then the truck to continue on the drive through the park.
One item of note, there was bits and pieces, and full-size trunks, of petrified wood everywhere. Somehow I resisted the urge to take a souvenir. After all, I had purchased some pieces (bookends and a slice) at a couple of stores before getting to the park, not to mention it is a federal crime. 😉
From there we stopped for a bite to eat, drove along the Blue Mesa road, saw some more petroglyphs and some ruins, then made our way out of the park to head to Phoenix.
Along the way we passed by the giant meteor crater in Winslow, Arizona, making a note to visit it in the spring.