I decided to do this trip as a backpack, because there is so much to see in the Petrified Forest. PageRob met up with my friends, girlfriend and myself at the Painted Desert Inn. After getting a permit from a very knowledgable ranger at the visitor center we were off. This permit was free, by the way.
Once we dropped off the mesa at Kachina Point, we entered a prehistoric world of petrified wood, native american artifacts and dinosaur bones. We wandered amongst the mudstone hills in the direction of the petroglyphs that Liz and I had found on our visit a month ago. This time the weather was perfect. Once at the glyphs, we dropped our packs and explored the area in further detail. We found petroglyphs that we did not see on our last visit as well as pottery pieces. Rob found some bits of dinosaur bones and a large bone that was beginning to poke thru the ground. Soon after that I found a phytosaur tooth.
After exploring the area we moved on, crossing Lithodendron Wash and climbing a small mesa. On top were strange rock formations and fantastically large pieces of petrified wood. We were looking for the allusive Onyx Bridge. Following my GPS got us nowhere. It led us to some great pieces of wood but not what we were looking for. Late in the afternoon we found a great campsite at the bottom of the mesa. After relaxing for a bit, my friend Doug went off to search for a good spot to take some photos of the sunset. He returned an hour and half later with good news: he found the Onyx Bridge. It is not as spectacular as we were hoping and it is in the process of collapsing. Later, we compared our pics with a pic in a book in the gift shop. Did we really find the Onyx Bridge? We have no idea.
The next day, we left our packs at camp, and set off to explore again. We headed west searching a boulder line at the bottom of another mesa for petroglyphs. We were not successful.
We got back to our cars around 1PM. We then drove south in the park to an area near the Puerco Ruin. A short walk along the dry river brought us to some spectacular petroglyphs. We spent at least a hour thoroughly searching the area. Then we stopped near the Crystal Forest to look at some agated wood. The wood in the southern part of the park is much more colorful than the wood in the north part of the park. After a few more pics and a stop at the gift shop to buy a map for future trips, it was time to go home.
If trail walking is not your thing, then the wilderness areas in the Petrified Forest are for you. Pick a direction and walk. You never know what you are going to find.