We swing out of Prescott via Sedona, which is even prettier than Prescott. We stop long enough for a late breakfast before continuing east toward the Petrified National Forest in western Arizona. We had hoped to camp here but the website says backcountry camping only. We’re really not in the mood to overnight hike in the desert: we’d have to carry enough water for the whole trip, plus it’s 90+.
We stop at the visitor’s center and see that we can pretty much hit the short walking trail here and then drive 25 miles through the park, picking and choosing a few overlooks and short walks before continuing east. We’ll find some place to stay once we cross into New Mexico.
The petrified forest is, again, not like anything I’ve ever seen. We’re standing in what today is just badlands and desert but millions of years ago was a huge forest. What remains today are cracked pieces of petrified wood. They’re gorgeous since minerals have crystallized in the trees as they decayed over the centuries.
I am very tempted to pick up a small chunk of petrified wood as a souvenir but there are signs everywhere warning visitors to leave everything in its place. There are also warnings about security cameras. As we’re leaving the park, there’s a huge sign saying the park has the right to search your car if park officials think you’ve taken anything. We breeze through; if we’re ever going to have a chunk of petrified wood, we’ll have to buy it.
As we stop at a few overlooks, the wind picks up and we look up to see storm clouds moving our way. We’re very glad we decided not to camp.
There’s some very pretty scenery but overall we don’t spend much time at the park before heading east to Gallup for the night.