Petrified Forest & Route 66

After dropping our daughters at the Flagstaff Airport we drove a couple of hours before we arrived at the Petrified Forest National Park. We were not really expecting a whole lot from this park but we certainly were surprised. Our first stop was the visitor center where we learned about the park. Because the area had been flooded the trees were buried in wet sediment where they were depleted of oxygen which slowed the decay of the wood turning them into almost solid quartz.

We could hardly believe the size of the trees lying around everywhere in the park. We drove the entire 28 miles through the park and the landscape was just littered with petrified wood.

There was so much petrified wood that there were multiple signs and warnings that it was illegal to take even a small piece of the wood. I was most impressed with the colors of the petrified wood. Sometimes it even appeared that the wood had turned into glass.

In addition to the petrified wood, remains of dinosaurs were found here and were on display at the Visitor Center.

Another interesting fact about this National Park is that it is the only National Park in the country with a portion of Historic Route 66 within its boundaries. Although the road bed is no longer there, the Mother Road ran parallel to the telephone poles pictured below. Notice the traffic of Interstate 40 just on the other side of the telephone poles now.

On the north side of the park is the Painted Desert Inn. It was built in the 1920’s but has been updated multiple times by the park services.

We decided to have lunch here at the Inn just so we could take in the beauty of the Painted Desert.

The Painted Desert reminded us very much of the Badlands in South Dakota. Notice here in the Painted Desert the trails where you can walk to see the formations up close.

In the Petrified National Forest you can see petroglyphs but you had to use a telescope to see them. We had seen petroglyphs up close at several other National Parks so we were a bit disappointed in the display here. There are also Puebloan ruins in the park but we were more impressed with the cliff dwellings that we had visited in Mesa Verde. Of course the park is all about petrified wood so when visiting the park, spend your time observing the remarkable remains of this ancient forest.

Not far from the park is the small town of Holbrook. Here you will find the whitewashed concrete and steel teepees of Wigwam Village. Disney’s movie Cars certainly made this Route 66 town famous and William and I were delighted to have stumbled upon this little treasure. The teepees were built in 1937 but you can still spend the night here when in Holbrook.

But Holbrook just wasn’t enough for us. We wanted to see and learn more about Route 66. By evening we were arriving in Tucumcari so we checked into the Desert Inn so that we could begin our exploration of the Mother Road the next morning.

The next morning we found little to see about the historic route in Tucumcari so we continued along Interstate 40 until we found the mother load of information in Elk City, OK. Here we found the National Route 66 Museum Complex. It boasts the world’s largest Route 66 sign out front.

Here we also found Myrtle the Kachina Doll, made of oil drums and scrap metal. She is 14 foot tall and has resided along route 66 since 1962.

Inside the museum the exhibits tell the story of Route 66. The transportation collections include cars, motorcycles, and even campers from the early era of the Mother Road.

The complex was home to three other museums and there was also a small town display of many of the historic buildings of Elk City.

The National Route 66 Complex is a pretty amazing place to visit so don’t miss it when you travel along I-40 in Oklahoma. Where else could I have ever learned that Phillips 66 got its name from a road test of a new fuel when the car reached a speed of 66 miles per hour on Highway 66.

Traveling along Interstate 40 you will definitely notice this 190 foot tall cross. It can be seen from 20 miles away and is located off exit 112 in Groom, TX. How can you not stop when you see this?

Around the base of the cross are bronze sculptures of Jesus’s journey to the cross. In addition to these stations of the cross there is sculpture of the last supper with the three crosses sitting elevated above.

Viewing the Cross Ministry site was a very uplifting experience for us. Our philosophy is to always spend the time to stop when you come upon something unique and interesting. You may never pass that way again.

Our travels over the last three weeks has taken us to 18 different sites. We traveled a total of 6032 miles and loved every minute of it.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Edith Propst says:

    You and William do every trip just right! And we thank you for sharing your photos and insight to every destination. Your travelogue writings, Rosa, are simply outstanding! Kudos over and over again! And Welcome Home to Concord just as we leave to go back to Colorado!


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