Part 28: Canyon de Chelly, Painted Desert, Petrified Wood N.M.


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The Trip

We broke camp in Bluff and headed out to a place called Sand Island. I stopped there to check out the camp site "for next time" and discovered that there were some nice petroglyphs right next to the camp. From there, we headed south to Chinle, AZ and Canyon de Chelly. The photos below are what we saw.

The Bluff Elementary School looked like Cold War blockhouse. But, architectural issues notwithstanding, it had a nice view of the rock cliffs to the north. From Bluff, we went to Sand Island camping area.

On our way to check out the camping area "for the next time", we spotted a sign for "Petroglyph Panel" so we went to check it out. Some of these drawings are in great shape and quite clear despite some graffiti.

Note the ghost figures near the bottom of the photo. Very odd.

Some of the figures were "pecked" quite deep into the rock.

Note the fellow on the left with the flute.

From Bluff, we headed south across the Navajo Reservation.

Our first overlook on Canyon de Chelly. The area is farmed today as it was many thousands of years ago.

A number of the alcoves had ruins under them. This canyon has been used for many thousands of years.

A large ruin complex under one of the biggest alcoves.

One of the cool things about sandstone is the patterns that are made by the various layers. Above, each layer is a slightly different shade resulting in the banding when it is worn away.

Another ruin complex, but this one was in a small alcove high up on the cliff wall. Access to this would have been very tough. The residents here must have been very scared of something or somebody to build this.

Slightly to the west of the above photo, this small structure was enclosed in another alcove high on the cliff wall.

This is one of the biggest ruins in Canyon de Chelly. The building style here is close to that used at Mesa Verde.

The large structure was just part of the story. Above, a large alcove shields the ruin complex from the heat of the sun during the summer, but is allowed to be illuminated during the winter. Passive solar heating! Who called these people primitive?

There were some pretty wide spots to the canyons which consisted of "de Chelly" and "Muerto" branches.

No trip to the canyon would be complete without a shot of Spider Rock. This is a massive spire right in the middle of the canyon.

Heading south from Canyon de Chelly, we stopped at the Painted Desert.

There were many subtle colors in the desert floor that were caused by grass and the mineralization in the rocks.

The Painted Desert Inn has been restored recently. It used to have guests, but now is just a tourist stop.

From the Painted Desert, we went south and crossed the BNSF tracks just as a freighter was approaching. I thought this would make an interesting shot. It did, but we forgot about the diesel exhaust. We got a face full, but it was nowhere near as acrid as the smoke my mog makes.

Further into the monument, we came upon another "Newspaper Rock". These petroglyphs were only visible from an overlook point, so the telephoto lens and some Photoshop work held me in good stead.

Another view of Newspaper Rock.

This is Agate Bridge, a petrified wood log that has had the material underneath eroded by the stream. The log was reinforced in the 1930s to prevent it from breaking.

As you can see, the log cracked anyway. What is amazing is that the texture of the wood can be seen in the rock. The surface of the log looks like an old telephone pole that has been dug up. Some of the original pigment still remains!!

Another excellent example of petrified wood. The bark patterns are clearly visible.

More hard wood.

One of the overlooks provided a great view of the Chinle Formation with its multi-colored sediments.

One of the biggest logs in the park. Really quite amazing to consider the age of the logs is the Triassic period.

From Petrified Forest, we headed west toward Flagstaff and an up-close encounter with the laundromat. We had tons of dirty clothes, so while not that much fun, the results were pleasing. I also met with a friend's daughter who was going to school at NAU and bought her and her friend dinner. We had a great time and then retired to the motel to steel ourselves for a whole day of hot freeway work that would take us to Calico and MogFest.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2008, all rights reserved.
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