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Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park

Arizona
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Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Description

Painted Desert is a magical place of pastel colors. If you're traveling on Highway 40, you should definitely stop at this easy stop! Other parts of Petrified Forest National Park are a longer way from the highway, but Painted Desert is a short and rewarding stop! This area is 1 hour 45 mins east of Flagstaff. Also fantastic is to stop at Meteor Crater, 40 mins east of Flagstaff. 
You can stop at the Visitor Center near the freeway exit to see some large petrified wood tree trunks with rings, but it's not that necessary.
The most important part is to drive to Painted Desert Inn, a Pueblo Revival style building, which is no longer an inn and restaurant but a ranger station and museum. Stop at some of the lookouts along the way to admire the wonderful colors of the painted desert! You will feel alive and happy! Once you reach Painted Desert Inn, you can enjoy this manmade pastel delight! Everywhere you look inside this cute adobe building (designed by NPS architect Lyle Bennett) there are pretty doorways, hand-hammered tin lights, petrified log columns and ceilings, painted window borders, murals by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie, carved wooden chairs, and carved and painted wooden booths and bar stools. One of the murals depicts a Hopi journey through the Painted Desert to collect salt. 
Painted Desert Inn was a Civilian Conservation Corps project in the late 1930s. Jobs were provided to young, unmarried men during the Great Depression through this program. Older, skilled men known as LEMs (Local Experienced Men) taught the CCC boys tinwork, furniture making, carpentry, woodcarving, and masonry (stonework). They need a program like this nowadays! How wonderful to have a job making something beautiful that will last for decades to come, rather than struggle with unemployment.
Kids can get their Junior Ranger booklets stamped here and earn a Junior Ranger badge after doing some nice activities in the book. Kids are called to think about how the young men in the CCC must have felt so far from home, and to recall times when they've been away from their parents and remember how they felt.
Painted Desert Inn was restored from wear and tear in 2004. I like what is written on the NPS website: "Even though the problems that have and will continue to afflict Painted Desert Inn present a struggle for the National Park Service, we are committed to its preservation. In many ways these problems contribute to the overall love and appreciation for this unique National Historic Landmark." A beautiful sentiment.
After walking around the inn and talking to the rangers, walk the trail out back that takes you to more vista points over the Painted Desert.

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Photo Gallery

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A Tawa mural of the sun rising on the eastern wall of the Lunch Room.
A Tawa mural of the sun rising on the eastern wall of the Lunch Room.
Skylights painted by the CCC workers, in the Painted Desert Inn.
Skylights painted by the CCC workers, in the Painted Desert Inn.
Petrified wood at the visitor center.
Petrified wood at the visitor center.
Plaques at the overlooks tell you about the desert.
Plaques at the overlooks tell you about the desert.
Swirls of colors on the landscape.
Swirls of colors on the landscape.
Blue sky with little puffy clouds.
Blue sky with little puffy clouds.
The sky is very luminous in the desert.
The sky is very luminous in the desert.
Layers of colors.
Layers of colors.
Overlook with gorgeous views.
Overlook with gorgeous views.
The desert really warms your heart.
The desert really warms your heart.
Inside Painted Desert Inn, with its log columns.
Inside Painted Desert Inn, with its log columns.
Mural on the wall at Painted Desert Inn, a ranger station and museum.
Mural on the wall at Painted Desert Inn, a ranger station and museum.
Booths and bar stools at Painted Desert Inn, which was a CCC project.
Booths and bar stools at Painted Desert Inn, which was a CCC project.
Tinwork chandelier- amazing craftmanship!
Tinwork chandelier- amazing craftmanship!
Tinwork lamp.
Tinwork lamp.
Path leading from the Painted Desert Inn to the view over the painted desert.
Path leading from the Painted Desert Inn to the view over the painted desert.
Lovely views of the painted desert.
Lovely views of the painted desert.
Splashes of color.
Splashes of color.
Desert plants and desert sky, at Painted Desert.
Desert plants and desert sky, at Painted Desert.
Painted Desert Inn is an adorable place.
Painted Desert Inn is an adorable place.
It's wonderful to visit Painted Desert Inn!
It's wonderful to visit Painted Desert Inn!

Directions

Painted Desert Inn and the painted desert trail and lookout points are located five minutes drive from Exit 311 of Highway 40. Drive north from the exit, along Petrified Forest Rd.
The address of Painted Desert Inn is 1 Park Rd, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028.
Open daily 9-4:30. Entry is $20 per car, to the entire Petrified National Forest- it is worth it even if you only have time for the Painted Desert.
There are restrooms at Painted Desert Inn.

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Last Updated: Sun, 29 Apr 2018 23:24:56 GMT