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Painted Desert Rim Trail, AZ

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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Holbrook
3.4 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 5,854 feet
Elevation Gain 50 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 1.25
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
38  2017-11-11 vanillagorilla
14  2016-06-25
Petrified Forest National Park
17  2016-05-07
Petrified Forest National Park
2  2015-08-20 Hippy
34  2015-05-04
Petrified Forest NP
35  2014-09-27
Return of the Painted Desert Rendezvous
5  2009-11-28 kathleenkylee
Author rally_toad
author avatar Guides 21
Routes 4
Photos 512
Trips 422 map ( 2,598 miles )
Age 28 Male Gender
Location Boulder City, NV
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Any
Sun  6:03am - 6:23pm
0 Alternative
Take a look at nature's color palette
by rally_toad

People flock from many different parts of the country and the world to see the Painted Desert, a beautiful work of art brought to you by mother nature. Some people confuse Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert as one and the same, however they are not. Petrified Forest is ENTIRELY within the Painted Desert, which is a huge area extending from east of the grand canyon all the way east of Petrified Forest and into parts of New Mexico. The Painted Desert is NOT only the northern section of Petrified Forest, although these are some of the best views of the Painted Desert, so take your time in the North part of the park.

One of my co-workers described the Painted Desert very well. He explained that the park is within the Painted Desert, we however have different "color palettes" as you go through the park. He explains that at the south end we have the purple/pink/mauve palette, around Blue Mesa we have the Blue palette, and up here at the North End we have the beautiful Red palette. This hike gives you spectacular views of the Red Palette of the Painted Desert.

The trail starts out at Tawa Point and takes you .5 miles to Kachina Point and the Painted Desert Inn, a national historic landmark. Along the way you cannot help but stare at the panoramas around you. You can see depending on the time of day many different colors, among the colors I have observed in this area are: white, red, orange, pink, purple, and black.

As you walk along the trail, you are walking through the volcanic and relatively new (5-8 million years old) Bidahochi Formation, basalt is around you as you hike. Below you is the 220 million year old Chinle formation which is exposed throughout the Painted Desert. See the problem? There is over 200 million years of geologic time missing in the park. Geologists call this an unconformity. The rock from the missing time was either never deposited, or it eroded away before the Bidahochi was deposited. This area is geologically fascinating!

As you walk on the trail, notice not only the multi-colored hills, but also keep an eye out for Petrified Wood in the desert below. Many visitors think that the wood is restricted to the southern end of the park, however Black Forest in the Painted Desert Wilderness Unit contains some of the most cool Petrified Wood in the park, it also includes the relatively unknown Onyx Bridge, a type of natural bridge that you will not see anywhere else.

After about 15-20 minutes or less of hiking you find yourself at the Painted Desert Inn and Kachina Point. Enjoy the views from Kachina before backtracking and returning the way you came.

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2009-08-17 rally_toad
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Painted Desert Rim Trail
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Petrified Forest National Park
Made a stop at Petrified Forest National Park on my way to Colorado.

I hit up the Rainbow Forest Loop first. On returning to the beginning of the loop, I overheard a gentleman talking to a ranger asking if it was legal for him to tote his gun in the park. The ranger informed him it was legal to tote his gun, but if he discharged it he could be in trouble. The gentlemen replied: "But what if there's a mountain lion attacking me?!"

Next I hit up the Long Logs - Agate House loop. This was the longest trail I did at the park totaling a whopping 2.5 miles! The Agate house is interesting; It was built out of Petrified Wood! On the way back the loop takes you through some neat looking badlands. This was probably my favorite trail I did, you essentially get a little sampler of everything you see on the rest of the established trails.

After that, I was off to Crystal Forest. A short loop with a few good views, and Petrified Wood that has a "crystal" looking core.

Next was Blue Mesa Trail, which takes you through some bigger and nicer looking badlands.

I then checked out Puerco Pueblo. The ruins are interesting, but I thought the sun dial which was etched into a rock was pretty cool. The Pueblo people would use it in order to track the changing seasons so they knew when to plant crops. I didn't quite understand exactly how it worked, only that it was etched in the rock at a position where when the sun hit it, a "light shaft" is created that intersects a spiral at 9:00 AM.

The last hike I did was the Painted Desert Rim. The immediate area isn't very interesting, but the views of the wilderness area north of the trail is enticing. Sometime I would like to backpack the Wilderness Area north of the Painted Desert Visitor Center.
Painted Desert Rim Trail
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Petrified Forest NP
My girlfriend and I stayed the weekend in Pine, intending to take our first trip to Fossil Creek this day, but with a thunderstorm in the forecast, and the fact that it was already raining when we got up, we had to change our plans. We wanted to go somewhere we'd never been before, so we decided to check out the Petrified Forest. Random, I know, considering this is a good 2 hr drive from Pine, but I'm really glad we went. I didn't know much about what to expect from this place, but it was awesome! Didn't realize how big this place is and how much there is to see.

We came in from the south entrance. There were a lot of tourists but it didn't seem especially crowded, since it was a Monday. It was mostly clear when we got there, but we could see a big storm coming in from the south, and soon enough started hearing the thunder. We stopped at pretty much all of the major spots along the way through the park, and hiked all the short trails. The storm was getting closer and closer, and it started lightly raining on us on the Crystal Forest Loop.

By the time we got to the Jasper Forest overlook it started pouring on us, and the thunder was crashing right overhead. We had to get back in the car and wait it out for 20 minutes or so. Once the rain slowed down we continued up the road to the Agate Bridge. That was definitely a cool spot. With all the rain there was water flowing and actually a waterfall under the bridge. There was water flowing all over the park actually, which I'm sure was a sharp contrast to how this park normally looks.

We kept going up to Blue Mesa and that was probably my favorite spot of the day. The Blue Mesa Trail was a great, short hike. It was cool being able to actually go down into the little canyon. Like a lunar landscape down there. There were little streams of milky water flowing all over the place. Pretty much no one else down there with us.

Unfortunately we had to rush a bit by the time we got to Puerco Pueblo. It was already after 4pm and we had a 4 hr drive back home to Phoenix ahead of us. We still had time to stop at a couple of the Painted Desert vistas though. Beautiful. I would love to come back here again with more time for hiking. We stopped at the Falcon Cafe in Winslow for dinner on the way home. We'll never stop there again...

Great wildflower show, which I wasn't expecting. Blankets of flowers all over the place.
Painted Desert Rim Trail
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Return of the Painted Desert Rendezvous
PEFO Pilot Rock Adventure 2014 - "Return of the Painted Desert Rendezvous"

Rob del Desierto and I had talked about a PEFO wilderness backpack for some time and agreed that late September would be a great time to target an ascent of the PEFO high point, Pilot Rock :next:

As the date approached for the wilderness adventure, some crazy weather starting showing up in the forecast. This served as the primary filter whittling the original 19 committed/interested group of HAZers down to two! Rob and I had exchanged emails indicating both of us were committed no matter what Mother Nature wanted to throw at us - we had plenty of back up plans including;

1. Onyx Bridge :next:
2. Puerco Pueblo and nearby rock art :next:
3. PEFO Ranger selections from NPS site :next: (Devil's Playground?)
4. Rock Art Ranch :next:
5. Grand Falls :next:

Rob arrived at my Ahwatukee home mid-afternoon and mid-dust storm we were on our way to Holbrook. We were treated to a great light show along the I-40 between Flagstaff and Holbrook. Once checked into our Holbrook Best Western base camp, we broke out the BBQ to grill up some choice steaks and corn-on-the-cob. We were soon joined by a lost beagle. Toko was her name per the engraved heart dangling from her collar. A phone number was also engraved on the heart. We called the surprised owner who promptly sent her brother over to Room 115 to collect the grateful beagle (grateful for the steak samples that is).

Saturday dawn broke with some surprisingly clear skies and a forecast for heavy showers beginning mid-morning.

We forced down some of the Best Western breakfast buffet (the self-made waffle with fresh fruit gets the only passing marks) while sitting amongst all the French tourists. Loaded up the F-150 and headed to PEFO about 20 miles east along the I-40 from Holbrook. We made a slight detour along the way, checking out the flooded Lithodendron Wash. Having explored this rare sight, we made our way over to the park entrance. I had my NPS annual pass ready, but we were being waved through by the Ranger indicating it was one of the "free entrance fee" days at the National Parks - enjoy!

We pulled up to Painted Desert Inn ready to explore the PEFO Black Forest and Quest for Onyx Bridge, but needed to alter plans. I had a chance to explore some parts of Mary Colter's renovation of the Painted Desert Inn :next: ... b-2013.pdf and Painted Desert Rim Trail :next: while Rob took care of business from afar.

We continued our PEFO hiking flexibility by heading over to Puerco Pueblo and exploring the petroglyphs along the west service road heading towards Newspaper Rock.

Our afternoon featured a surprisingly dry and mud-free trek towards Onyx Bridge and some preliminary route finding towards Pilot Rock. Thanks Rob for pointing out the rock art panels and dinosaur fossils along the route.

We wrapped up with a late afternoon BBQ of some brats n beer at the Chinde Point picnic table area :next: ... _large.pdf before hitting the road back to the PHX area. I think I've got Rob convinced that all Country & Western tunes must contain one of the three main theme items;
1. Girls/Women
2. Alcohol
3. Trucks
Truly visionary Country & Western tunes contain all three main theme items...

Fitbit totals; 15.16 miles and 1060 AEG

Photos to follow (when I get the chance)...

PS. Post hike, we obtained an NPS brochure for Onyx Bridge :next: (includes GPS coordinates for bridge - feeling foolish thwarted again?)

PPS. Rob and I agree that a Spring Redux is mandatory to conquer Pilot Rock and the ever elusive, Onyx Bridge. :)

Permit $$

Petrified Forest National Park
$20 per car (for 7 days), Bike/Walk-in $10 Petrified National Forest

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Start from Tawa point, about 1.5 miles from the north entrance to Petrified Forest on the main park road. There will be a sign for Tawa point on the right.
page created by rally_toad on Aug 17 2009 10:56 am
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