Cross Country Journal – Day 4 Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks

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We woke up in Albuquerque and enjoyed breakfast in our hotel. I woke up before 6 AM. My mind and body are definitely out of whack!

We hit the road and headed toward our destination in Williams, Arizona. On the way, our plan was to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, which are located in the same National Park about one minute off Rt. 40 West.


By the time we entered the parks, it was close to 11:30 and the heat was beginning to set in. We decided to go ahead with the drive through the parks, but to skip any longer hikes.

The Painted Desert was magnificent. The views were beautiful.  As you know, pictures just can’t accurately capture this sort of beauty, but I’ll share a few.



Two stops included views of petroglyphs visible on the rock. The Puerco Pueblo .3 mile loop  had examples that were very close to the path and easily visible, though harder to detect in pictures.  These were created by the Ancestral Puebloan People over 600 years ago.



Remains of the Puebloan peoples’ houses and the plaza area are seen on the path.


The next section had many more petroglyphs, but they were pretty far away from our vantage point. Free viewfinders were located at the site.  The ones pictured here were taken with my zoom lens:


We did the driving tour of the Blue Mesa section and took in the views.


On the way, we passed the “Three Teepees”.  Amazing visible layers!


As the road continues, you enter the National Petrified Forest. The petrified wood liters the scenery.


Although the heat was gettign to us, we did walk along one of the paths to see a few of the pieces of wood, now quartz, up close.




This really helped the kids understand what was so different about the petrified logs.


I was completely fascinated by the explanation of Pangea and how the spread of the continents meant that these logs were the very ones found in the Crystal Forest in Costa Rica.


I turned to my husband, “Man, I need a science program that teaches cool stuff like this. I gotta do some research.

He just laughed and commented that I am probably the one person to react to the petrified wood by talking about researching science curriculums.

I guess you can take the mom away from the homeschool day but you can’t take the homeschool day away from the mom. #truth

After our tour of the National Parks, we were ready for some food. It was a bit hot to make lunch on the side of the road, so we found a diner in town and enjoyed some good eats.

Soon we were back on the road.


It was time to head to our final destination for tonight.  Our motel tonight was located on historic Route 66.


I choose this one because on the property are two caboose cars that have been converted into motel rooms.

We were going to sleep in caboose #1.



The kids were THRILLED about this! They loved every moment of being at this motel and RV park.

The indoor pool was freezing, despite the “heated” sign. The kids only enjoyed a very quick swim.


After a load of laundry, we had a picnic dinner at the picnic area just outside of the pool. The evening felt fantastic and we enjoyed relaxing outdoors for awhile.


The playground didn’t offer much, but what it did include were things that we don’t have at home that were quite entertaining…


tires that could be moved around and built with..


old boats


and two mini-size vehicles.


The kids had a great time relaxing out of the heat and the car.

Before we knew it, it was time to crash in bed.   Thank goodness for the room darkening curtains.  It was still early, but our internal clocks had not adjusted to the new time zone.


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