6/15/2018 & 6/16/2018
Standin' On The Corner, Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest, and The Painted Desert
Friday 6/15/2018 We left Lake Havasu City around 10:30 and started our 243 mile trip to The Meteor Crater RV Park near Winslow, Arizona. We still have a few days before our reservations at The Grand Canyon and there are a couple of things to see in and near Winslow. It was a pretty scenic drive. We started out driving along the Colorado River, turned off into the desert and then started to gain some altitude. As we got higher the scenery started to change. There was a lot more vegetation, the ground and rocks now had a reddish look and it was cooler. The Meteor Crater RV Park is a pretty nice campground. Large pull through sites and very clean. Once we got set up we headed to Winslow. Winslow is a small town with a population of less than 10,000 but one thing the town has going for it is the Eagles song from the 70s, "Take it Easy". And they sure take advantage of it. The lyrics in the song are: "Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see. It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me." They built a small park with a facade of a building with a two-story mural and a bronze statue of a life-sized man who is standing on a corner with a guitar by his side. There's not much else going on in the city but there were probably 40 or so people hanging around the area. The entire block is geared toward this corner with gift shops, bars, an ice cream shop and restaurants. Historic Route 66 also runs through the same corner. Of course, since we were there we had to take our picture on the corner and spend some money in the gift shop.
Saturday 6/16/2018 Today we went to see the Meteor Crater which is near Winslow, Arizona. It is considered the best preserved and first proven meteorite site on earth. It was very interesting but it still basically just a very large hole in the ground. The pictures don't really do the size of the crater justice. It is over 4000 feet across and 2.4 miles in circumference. Their brochure states "to give you a better idea as to the crater's size, imagine 20 football games being played simultaneously on its floor, while more than two million spectators observe from its sloping sides." It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1967 but is privately owned and operated by Meteor Crater Enterprises which I believe also owns the RV Park we are staying at. They do charge admission - an adult is $ 18.00 but we only paid $ 14.00 due to our advanced age and a discount from staying at their RV Park. We only spent about an hour and a half walking around the observation areas at the crater, watching a short film, and browsing through their small museum.
After the crater visit, we returned to the trailer and had lunch. Then we took a drive to the Petrified Forest National Park which was about 50 miles away. This park covers about 230 square miles with one main road through the center of the park. The road is 28 miles long with many scenic spots to stop at and walk around. Our first stop was The Painted Desert Visitors Center and then we drove to The Painted Desert Overlooks. There is an old inn from the early 1900's called The Painted Desert Inn which began as a trading post, then turned into an inn and now it is a museum. Unfortunately, it was closed today because of the rain. I guess the foundation isn't as safe as it should be and in rainy conditions, they feel they need to close it for safety. We strolled around the inn and the lookout behind it and took some great pictures.
We also stopped at a point where the Historic Route 66 once ran through the park. There is a rusted out 1932 Studebaker car marking the spot. The next stop was Newspaper Rock where you can view from an overlook over 650 petroglyphs (ancient Indian drawings), some as old as 2000 years. Next, we went to the Agate Bridge which is a 110-foot petrified log spanning a gully. They reinforced it with concrete some years ago.
We stopped next at the Crystal Forest where we got our first view of petrified logs. There is a paved, 3/4 mile loop trail through a badlands landscape with many intact logs. We were amazed at the number of logs there. They were scattered all over, and many logs had beautiful quartz crystals. But by this time the weather took a turn for the worse. It began raining hard, very windy and cold. I actually lightened some of the pictures because of the overcast skies and now you can't see how miserable we actually were. We never imagined it would be this cold and rainy in Arizona in the middle of June.
There was one last trail that we wanted to walk called the Long Logs Trail. We were just too wet and cold to attempt it so we stopped at The Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitors Center on the way out of the park. The center also had a paved trail behind it that ran through another petrified log area. It wasn't very long so we braved that walk and then drove out of the park.
I was always under the impression that petrified wood was a rarity and was only located inside the Petrified Forest. As we were driving back to the RV park, we happened across a large gift shop. This shop had petrified wood logs scattered all over the property. It appeared to me that there was more petrified wood here than in the actual park. The National Park had signs posted all over not to take any petrified wood or fossils out of the park and so I was curious as to where all the logs at the gift shop came from. I asked the cashier and he told me that there is petrified wood all over the area which is privately owned. The owners dig it up and sell it to the gift shops. We did buy a small piece of petrified wood as a souvenir.