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St. Louis, Missouri
August 30, 2003
As you read about petroglyphs you discover that scientists really aren't sure why they were made or for that matter how old they are. We can date the rock they're on or perhaps date the ruins they may be close to, but that doesn't really tell how old the drawings are. Nor do they completely understand what they mean. We know they took time to make, so the chances of these being random doodlings seems less likely, but they could be an ancient expression of art, or mark an animal trail, or a way to ask for blessings from the gods for a particular event. There is one exception. At least one of the glyphs is a solar calendar. At solstice and equinox, a shaft of light will creep across the rock face and move precisely through the center of a spiral drawing.
Petroglyphs are made possible by a dark layer called "desert varnish" that sometimes covers the rocks. This varnish is a combination of iron or manganese with bacteria and it grows harder and blacker with time. This dark "varnish" provides a contrast layer to the light colored rock below and allows the petroglyph to be carved into the rock. If you look real close, you can see individual chip marks still in the glyphs. This was not like drawing; it was more like sculpting with a hammer and pick. Perhaps that's why stick figures are more common.
For those that are interested, I will add that archeologists have categorized petroglyphs into six categories. They are anthropomorphs, geometrics, kachinas, hands/tracks, zoomorphs, and indeterminate. Anthropomorphs have something to do with the pictures of people. Geometrics are boxes, circles, spirals etc. Kachinas are usually heads/masks with features. Hands/tracks are simply a hand print or the representation of the tracks of some animal. Zoomorphs are pictures of animals. I counted about seven different animals, but I'm sure there are more. Indeterminate is a category for anything that just can't be put in any other category.
After Newspaper Rock, there is one other place where the petroglyphs can be seen. That is at the Puerco Pueblo ruins. You can get closer to them at this location and there is a bathroom available at this location.
From journal Petrified Forest-Shadows of a Long Time Past!
by Chris & Carinne
July 24, 2010
From journal National Parks Tour
by A Duarte
March 16, 2003
I would recommend starting from the dessert side and catch it in the bright sunshine. It was becoming overcast by the time we reached the desert side and the colors didn't quite pop.
From journal Girl trip to AZ
by Emily May
April 6, 2006
From journal Seattle to Florida... and Everything in Between
May 4, 2003
From journal Great Circle from America's Midwest to Arid West
December 29, 2000
If you plan to continue driving east on I-40 toward Albuquerque after leaving the park, I recommend that you use SR 180 and the South Entrance to the park, to avoid back-tracking back to Holbrook to get on I-40.
There is a park entry fee of $10 per car, unless you bought a $50 pass for unlimited use in all National Parks.
A single road (10-15 miles) goes through the park from SR 180 to I-40, there are several stopping points, overlooks, and a Visitors Center (recommended).
Along the way, there are easy trails that provide views of fossilized wood/trees that have slowly turned to stone over 200 Million years.
Do not remove any of the petrified wood from the park. The National Park Service is very serious about that.
There is a large gift shop that is next to an Information Center with lots a fossils, and even a couple of small dinosaur skeletons.
This is said to be one of the largest concentrations of Petrified Wood in the world.
There are more spectacular National Parks, but as I thought about the 200 million years it took to produce these fossils, I gained appreciation for the park.
From journal The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest
April 1, 2010
From journal Spring Break at the Canyon
August 13, 2009
From journal National Parks in Southern Utah
December 2, 2006
From journal Hiking & Biking Paradise
March 29, 2005
The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are connected by a 26-mile loop road. As you drive through the park and see all of the logs and tree fragments scattered over the landscape, it is nearly impossible to imagine the area millions of years ago.
There are several overlooks and walks that provide you with opportunities to see and even touch the petrified wood. REMINDER: TOUCH--DO NOT TAKE! It is a federal offense to take samples. If you are interested in owning a piece of petrified wood, we suggest you stop at Jim Grays' Petrified Wood Shop located on the west end of the park in the town of Holbrook, AZ. They are open one hour past the closing time of the park, so take your time and enjoy!
We especially enjoyed the Giant Logs Trail and the Crystal Forest trails. Both are easy leisurely walks of less than 30 minutes.
From journal Flagstaff Retreat