The Petrified Forest’s Blue Mesa
The entry walkway to the Blue Mesa has some nice views all by itself. It’s a long way down.
Originally posted 2/17/2013
The Blue Mesa area of the Petrified Forest National Park was actually my favorite section of the entire park. A one-mile walk takes you down between badland hills that vary markedly in color and texture, with a few chunks of petrified logs thrown in. It’s all paved, but it slopes and twists markedly in spots at the entry. Something like a blown heart valve makes for a leisurely, wheezing climb back up at the end, but such a trial is so worth it!
Rather than get into how it was formed, I’ll just show you a few of the many photos I took, and leave at that. I will say that although it’s about an hour to hike around and back, the variety of magnificent views all around each time you stop will properly extend your stay greatly. Two girls in their twenties started behind me, and snapped away with their cellphone cameras for about an hour and fifteen or so, leaving me in their dust. If you bother to turn around each time you stop though, you won’t find any reason to hurry on. If you are so unfortunate as to only have time enough for a brief visit to the park while heading somewhere else, forget the superb Crystal Forest and every other area. Find the Blue Mesa. Get out of the car, bring a bottle of water, and go. It is very likely the quietest place you will ever be in your life, short of a sound studio in a blackout.
Again at the entry, you’ll want to take a moment to stop and look around.
Looking down the start of the Blue Mesa Trail proper. Looks interesting, but who knows?
A young park ranger patrolled a lap around, and was happy to answer questions and offer advice.
The highly layered nature of the hills starts with gravel at the top, which cascades down as erosion takes place.
See what I mean about texture variations?
Try to speed-walk past this, and you’ll regret it.
This trail is superb, taking you right through, not skirting around anything.
Petrified wood logs slowly become exposed, and then tumble down to the bottom.
You must stay on the paved trail because the ground material is so fragile.
It doesn’t all have a bluish tinge.
This is all within the rather short one-mile loop.
Several plaques note just what you’re looking at, and what makes it special.
Same feature as above, but just a little closer.
The log is harder than the material under it, so erosion has exposed it, and will eventually collapse the pedestal supporting it.
Colors change again as you continue the loop.
This, in so many words, is 100% river bottom, now laid bare from erosion.
Can you see why taking an airline to get to your final vacation spot has drawbacks?
The sense of scale is often hard to gauge. Lens to cliff here is little more than a car length.
Emerging from the trail, the power module for The Enterprise, the Mighty Furd, is on the right.
Pictures are nice, but not like seeing it for yourself in person: the ultimate VistaVision.