The Painted Desert if part of the Petrified Forest National Park. It consists of more than 93,500 acres, with vast landscape featuring rocks with many beautiful colors from deep lavenders and rich grays to reds, oranges and even pinks.
1851: Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves was the first to document finding petrified wood in this region.
1853: Lieutenant Amiel Whipple, during a government expedition to find a route for the railroad along the 35th Parallel, was the first to document petrified wood that would one day be included within Petrified Forest National Park. His expedition artist/naturalist, Balduin Möllhausen, was also the first to publish an account of the expedition with illustrations of the petrified wood.
1895: Congress turns down a bill to create a national park at Petrified Forest.
1900: The Department of the Interior publishes the Report on the Petrified Forests of Arizona by paleobotanist Lester F. Ward with his recommendations to protect the area.
1904-05: conservationist John Muir explores the Petrified Forest.
December 8, 1906: Petrified Forest National Monument was created by President Theodore Roosevelt stating that, …the mineralized remains of Mesozoic forests…are of the greatest scientific interest and value and it appears that the public good would be promoted by reserving these deposits of fossilized wood as a National monument with as much land as may be necessary for the proper protection thereof.
August 25, 1916: The National Park Service was created by the Organic Act approved by Congress and signed by President Woodrow Wilson. This federal bureau within the Department of the Interior was now responsible for protecting the 40 national parks and monuments then in existence and those yet to be established. The purpose of the service was to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.
1924: Herbert Lore registered Painted Desert Inn as his business and claimed property under the Homestead Act. The inn was quickly nicknamed “Stone Tree House” due to the petrified wood used in its construction.
1931-1942: The Civilian Conservation Corps arrived in Petrified Forest National Monument and completed several construction projects over the next few years, including Rainbow Forest Museum, park residences, bridges, roads, trails, Agate House and Puerco Pueblo partial reconstructions, and Painted Desert Inn.
September 23, 1932: Over 53,000 acres was added to Petrified Forest National Monument. This not only increased the number and kinds of natural and cultural resources, it also added the scenic value of the Painted Desert vistas as a resource to be protected. This ultimately helped to push legislation through to upgrade the national monument to national park status. http://www.nps.gov/pefo/planyourvisit/brief-administrative-history.htm
This is the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site located off I-40 in Northern Arizona near Winslow. Meteor Crater is the breath-taking result of a collision between a piece of an asteroid traveling at 26,000 miles per hour and planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago. Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. There is a wonderful visitor center, with a huge gift store, subway restaurant, Interactive Discovery Center, awesome film, a fabulous tour of the outside rim and an awesome outside walkways to view the crater.
Winslow is a town of about 10,000 located along Interstate 40 in North Arizona. The town was either named after Edward F. Winslow, a president of the St Louis and San Francisco Railroad, or Tom Winslow a local prospector. Nearby attractions include the Meteor Crater and Homolovi State Park. This is the Winslow City Hall.
Eagles fans (and anyone else) can stand on a corner in Winslow Arizona with a mural of a girl in a flatbed Ford. The town achieved international fame from the Eagles song "Take it Easy" which came out in 1972 and included the lines; "standin on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. It's such a fine sight to see. It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin down to take a look at me. This corner is on 2nd and Kinsley.
We are up for most things... big balls of twine, 72 oz steaks... and there we were, driving through the Arizona desert. We kept seeing these signs touting METEOR CRATER!!! Ohhhh, Ahhhh. So, we figure what the heck and take the drive.
We were in the motor home with a wheel chair bound person. We drove to the upper parking lot to let out our wheelchair person and were told by the ranger that we couldn't park there. Sorry, but we are happy to move the RV down the gravel hill as soon as we offload the wheelchair and get her settled.
That being done we find that there is a gift shop, fully staffed with persons who didn't seem much like they wanted to be the staff... where one of our party was quickly educated about the fact that he was a Native American, and that the word Indian is a pejorative. Hmmm. Not where we come from, but ok, great to know, did you have to be so mean about it? I'm sure that some of the employees were nice.
The "discovery center" was pretty good. Some hands on, but not big or involved enough to spend much time there. The HOLE was big. It was impressive... ... ...... but really, IT'S A HOLE. They shouldn't have charged $15 for adults and $8 for kids to look at a hole.
We weren't sorry that we saw the hole, as a matter of fact we have some funny stories about some of the stupid yet funny things that one of our party did on the trip (along with being swiftly educated about Native Americans, she was also involved in the taking of a 1/2" pebble, which is heretofore known as "the felonious rock"). We often joke about visiting the hole.
If you are really into astronomy, this might be worth $15 for you. But I still think it was a stretch.
Their web site says 20 miles from Winslow. Really, we felt like we were driving a very long time once we got off the highway. And of course, once you've driven to the middle of the desert to get to your destination, you pretty much feel like you may as well pay all that money.
In summary, if you just HAVE to see a crater hole, because you've always wanted to see a crater hole, go see this. As crater holes go, I'm sure this is great. For the rest of us, save your $15 dollars (plus gas money) and go see the biggest ball of twine.
For anyone that loves "Take it Easy" By the Eagles then you will love this place. It was one stop along Route 66 that we did not want to miss. Nothing exciting to do here except stand on the corner but we loved it. A lot of other tourists were here taking photos as well. Make sure to play the song when you arrive into town. It adds to the ambiance :) So glad i stopped.
Thirty five miles east of Flagstaff and 25 miles west of Winslow lies one of the most amazing things in Arizona --- a real honest-to-goodness 50,000 year old perfect meteor crater (it hurtled to the earth at 40,000 miles per hour)! Everything was wiped out when it hit and you can still feel the devastation...
The first time I visited this place, it was already closed at about 630 PM when we went. So, make sure you check the hours when it is open.
Meteor Crater Visitor Center is open daily. Visitation hours are as follows:
Memorial Day to September 15th 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Rest of the year 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Thanksgiving Day open from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Closed Christmas Day
Go and watch the film first which educates on meteor collisions, and then see the actual crater itself. The Meteor Crater is over 4,000 feet across, and 550 feet deep, and there are observation telescopes that allow you a close up look at points of interest in the crater. Daily guided rim tours allow those with proper hiking shoes to venture about 1/3 mile around the crater rim. The tours leave hourly from 9:15 a.m. until 2:15 p.m., and last about 1 hour, weather permitting.
Then go to the museum where they have actual meteor specimens! A 1,406 pound meteorite fragment, the largest ever found in the area, is on display for visitors to view and touch. And there even miniscule meteor diamonds on display....Then the gift shop offers a lot of stuff and souvenirs for you to bring home.
I always bring friends here and they always are in awe, and I like seeing the expressions on their faces when they first see it for the first time...a view to behold! Scary if another meteor this size impacts a major city in the future...
In the distance you can see the Tuutukwi or The Hopi Buttes. These are sacred areas to the Hopi and are the home to Katsinas or spirits that bring the rain and other things required for the day to day life of the Hopi.
Part of the reason the people settled here at Homolovi was the availability of water from the Little Colorado River (called Paayu by the Hopi). Even when the river looks totally dry, there is water available a few feet down.
Here (Photos 1 and 2) you see a large rectangular Kiva (or Ceremonial Room). The benches along three sides, the raised altar and the ventilation shaft in the low wall before the altar are distinguishing charcteristics that let you know this is a Kiva. Photo 3 is of a smaller circular Kiva which was allowed to remain buried. The last photo is of the Central Plaza.
The trail at Homolovi II is also fairly short. This one is paved and looked to be wheelchair accessible. Homolovi II was a 1200 room village that at its peak housed 750 to 1000 people. There is not as much left as at nearby Wupatki National Monument but more than at Homolovi I. In addition to the ruins of five rooms shown here, there are kivas and other places of interest along the trail. The nearby Homolovi III and Homolovi IV Ruins are not open to the public.
There is a short loop trail that leads through the ruins at Homolovi I. There is not much left here, one decent wall/corner and a few foundations. There are spots along the way where they have flat stones with potshards placed on them. Unlike most places here you are encouraged to pick up the pieces, examine them more closely, feel the texture, and above all put them back. There are also places along the trail where you can see the Little Colorado River (which does not always have water in it).
The Tsu 'Vo Trail is a 1/2 mile loop trail between the twin buttes within the Homolovi Ruins State Park. It is a nature trail and also an archaelogical trail where visitors can see milling stone areas and petroglyphs. It is best viewed in the early evening. Unfortunately, I was there in the early morning, so my pictures are not the best. Make sure you get the brochure from the Visitor's Center to inform you about the petroglyphs. Photo 5 shows where part of the rock gave way. There are petroglyps, now upside down, on the far side of the rock.
The Homolovi Ruins State Park houses the ruins of a 14th Century settlement of the Hisat'sinom (better known as the Anasazi) located in the high grassland along the Little Colorado River. These people paused in their migrations to till the rich flood plain and sandy slopes before continuing north to join people already living on the mesas, people who are today known as the Hopi. Homolovi is Hopi for “place of the little hills”. your first stop should be the Visitor's Center where you can pay the entrance fee ($5 per vehicle), pick up some informative brochures, buy souvenirs, and look through the displays in the small museum.