The Painted Desert is a badlands in the Four Corners area running from near the southeast into Petrified Forest National Park and east of Grand Canyon National Park. But it is easily accessed in the north side of Petrified Forest National Park. The brilliant and varied colors include more common red rock and shades of lavender. It took millions of years for nature to form this natural canvas of unbelievable design that some describe it as a multi-colored layered cake.
The Painted Desert was named by an expedition under Francisco Vázquez de Coronado on his 1540 quest to find the Seven Cities of Cibola. Hence, passing through the wonderland of colors, they named the area El Desierto Pintado “The Painted Desert”. The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert is a living history book. The majestic colors, hues, and shades paint a tapestry of time. Visualize that once this was a tropical forest! Dinosaurs walked here.
The most part of Painted Desert is protected as Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area. Nonetheless, the area is easy and longer hikes into the colored hills. The magical Painted Desert continues north into the Navajo Nation, where off-road travel is allowed by permit. Wind and rain, the sedimentary composition of the rocks and the lack of protective vegetative, all subsidize to the rapid erosion of the Chinle Formation.
The Painted Desert is composed of stratified layers easily erodible siltstone, mudstone, and shale of the Triassic Chinle Formation. The fine-grained rock layers comprise plentiful iron and manganese compounds that offer the pigments for the various colors of the region. Thin resistant lacustrine limestone layers and volcanic flows cap the mesas. Further, several layers of silicic volcanic ash occur in the Chinle and provide the silica for the petrified logs of the area. The erosion of these layers has resulted in the formation of the badlands topography of the region.
In the southern portions of the desert, the remains of a Triassic period coniferous forest have fossilized over millions of years. Wind, water and soil erosion continue to change the face of the landscape by shifting sediment and exposing layers of the Chinle Formation. An assortment of fossilized prehistoric plants and animals are found in the region, as well as dinosaur tracks and the evidence of early human habitation.
Painted Desert Weather?
The Painted Desert has a cold desert climate with hot, dry summers and cold, though virtually snow-free winters. The annual precipitation is the lowest in northern Arizona. In several places is lower even than Phoenix. Most area of Painted Desert is accessible only by foot or unpaved road through major highways and paved roads.
Where is the Painted Desert?
The towns of Cameron and Tuba City are two major settlements roughly from Cameron - Tuba City southeast to past Holbrook and the Petrified Forest National Park. The Painted Desert is about 190 km long by about 97 km wide, making it roughly 19,425 km2 in area. Nowadays, the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest are well-protected lands? Which provides a rich history of various ancient peoples, a breathtaking assortment of views, and a picture of life as only the dinosaurs knew it. Source: CP