While we were visiting Little Painted Desert, we stayed at Homolovi State Park, near Winslow. There was quite a nice little widely spaced campground here. We were able to get a great site for 2 days with a view of the prairie all around us. The weekend was booked, but we only needed the 2 days for what we wanted to do.Yesterday evening, we were up at Little Painted desert (last post), so today we wanted to explore Homolovi a little better. The park was populated by a number of different native peoples, then later by Mormon settlers. There are two indian sites and an old cemetery to explore. We first the Mormon cemetery. We could have driven the 3 mile round trip road there, but it was so nice this morning, we chose to walk. It was very quiet and visibility was pretty good all the way to the San Francisco Peaks. The cemetery was quite small and it seemed a number of the graves had pretty much returned to dust.Later in the day, we went out to the Homolovi 2 archeological site. It is typical of partially excavated pueblo’s, but one thing stood out – the amount of pottery shards laying around. It is not uncommon to find these pieces, but here people seem to have picked them up, but placed them on the various rocks laying around. Most parks really don’t like visitors to even touch artifacts. I suppose they are happy no one takes any. It is certainly a temptation. We touched but did not take. When we talked with the ranger in the visitor center later on, he let us know about a couple of petroglyphs locations. The best was at the end of an established trail that really wasn’t advertised much. He said he waits until people express interest before telling them how to get there. We followed the path for around 1 1/2 miles, and found some nice examples.Our second morning, before taking off for Holbrook and Petrified, we walked the 1 1/2 mile road out to the Homolovi 1 archaeological site which was pretty much like the site 2 with pottery shards everywhere. Just before getting back to camp we found a dead jackrabbit just below our site. There are quite a few of these guys hopping around, but this one was done. It was interesting how it seems to have just laid down as if to sleep. I could see some scratch marks in the sand around it, recording it’s last movements.Now we move on to Holbrook and Petrified.
Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park
April 17-21For the past week we have been visiting Petrified Forest/Painted National Park. The drive From Winslow to Holbrook went smoothly and once there, had to settle for a couple of nights at another KOA. There just isn’t much camping around here – most of the land belongs to the Navajo Nation. We found out later about a native owned RV park at the south entrance. If you can get by with no hook-ups, it’s free. With electricity, it’s $10. No water or dump, but for the 1-3 days most people spend, it’s very doable. Cutting out nearly 40 miles of driving is the bonus. We moved there after 2 nights at the KOA.Over the next 3 days, we traveled up and down and back and fourth, all over the two main sections of the park. Instead of trying to chronicle each day, I’m just going to post the images from each area we explored. Mornings and evenings and same place, different days, will be combined and it’s up to you to decide which is which. Since we couldn’t get into the park until 7 AM, good morning light was in short supply. Best light was usually from mid-afternoon till sunset, but with cloud cover, even mid-day worked well for images.Blue Mesa was a place we visited several times as we moved between sections. The road spurs off from the main park road about halfway through the south section. It then rises up to follow along and around the top of the mesa. The mesa’s name comes from the predominately cool range colors of the sedimentary layers. As the mesa has eroded, the layers have been revealed, with blues purples and green and magenta – all in such intriguing shapes and states of erosion. All along the loop could also be found great examples of petrified wood. In some places, the ground around a log had largely eroded away, leaving it on a pedestal of sorts. The north section is know as the Painted Desert. I think it is an appropriate name. Depending on time of day, it can change dramatically. Passing clouds dapple light over the land below, revealing constantly changing highlights. Other times, the high mid-day sun will eliminate shadows, but wash out colors. This can also be nice when it creates a more pastel look. This is probably my favorite section because of the wideness of the view. At a few of the early turnouts, closer vantage points let you get a little more personal. Also in this section, a short trail along the edge can be walked from one of the viewpoints to the former Inn, now a museum of sorts. Maybe a half mile or so. A nice little leg stretcher, but really, the best views are from the road. If you have the time and energy, you can hike into the landscape. On our last day at the park, before leaving, we ventured into the park once again to hike the Long Logs trail. This loop is about a mile and a half, but you can add another mile by hiking out to Agate House – a reconstructed pueblo indian ruin made from petrified wood.All along this trail there does indeed exist many nearly whole trees, now petrified. Nice Yellow Mariposa Lilies and Evening Primrose were all over the place. We were there early, but the sun was behind us and making compositions without our own shadows in the frame was difficult. There is a nice view all around at Agate House, and the reconstructed walls were fun to look at, but by now, the sun was getting high and the light harsh. We were visited by this little songbird. Haven’t quite identified it yet, but sang to us several times before flitting away again. Our next stop will be Canyon de Chelly a bit north of here. We will be spending 2 or 3 days viewing the canyon and ruins and will be meeting up with friend Don and Dorothy for a visit.