Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Formed over 200 million years ago, the result of a forest being buried by volcanic ash and petrified, the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park makes for a particularly interesting detour off Route 66. The glorious multi-colored rock formations are a result of the various iron and manganese compounds in the rock, and on a sunny day produce vibrant reds and oranges. The views are spectacular and photographs can't do justice to the beauty of the various colored layers - it really has to be seen to be appreciated.

As the only National Park to contain a portion of Route 66, the Petrified Forest has an interesting visitor’s center with plenty of polished examples of petrified wood. As well as being a popular destination for sightseeing, it's also a magnet for photographers, hikers and backpackers.

North of the Petrified Forest you gain access to the Painted Desert - a desert badlands, so called because of the brilliant and varied colors on of rock on display. As you drive through there are many opportunities to pull over in the spaces provided to stretch your legs and take some photos.

For the purposes of your roadtrip, the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park can be treated as one destination - Mother Nature's two-for one!


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What started as a record of my personal Route 66 experience has grown into an active community of Route 66 veterans and newcomers alike. This website relies entirely on the experiences of its users so please feel free to recommend your own personal favourites.

Every Route 66 road trip is unique, and this site is in no way intended to be a definitive guide to the old road. However, I sincerely hope it offers a starting point to anyone planning their own Route 66 vacation.

Steve Bellamy

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