The Painted Desert derives its name for the multitude of colors ranging from lavenders to shades of gray with vibrant colors of red, orange and pink. Located in Northern Arizona, the Painted Desert stretches from Grand Canyon National Park eastward to Petrified Forest National Park, with a large portion lying within the Navajo Nation.
The Painted Desert encompasses over 93,500 acres and stretches over 160 miles No one event shaped the Painted Desert, serves as proof of the earth’s volatility: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and sunlight all combined to create the Painted Desert. This National Park also provides the opportunity to explore the lives of the ancient Indian tribes who once wandered this area and made it their home.
The Painted Desert is adjacent to the Petrified Forest, so it is a great opportunity to visit both historical sites in a single trip. A place dinosaurs roamed over 225 million years ago. Lush green forests ruled the landscape with 200 foot tall conifers. Volcanic mountains erupted toppling the trees. Swept away by waterways and covered with volcanic ash and sediment, these trees became entombed and over millions of years became petrified. Through gradual erosion, gigantic logs and remnant pieces became exposed.
The Petrified Forest is home to some of the most impressive fossils ever found and more are being discovered each year as erosion exposes new evidence. Petrified Forest National Park has one of the most diverse collections of prehistoric pottery fragments in the Southwest.
Today, the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest are protected lands that offer a rich history of numerous ancient peoples, a breathtaking assortment of views, and a picture of life as only the dinosaurs knew it. No matter which sites you go see, the park is full of unbelievable natural wonders that are sure to astound you with their scenic beauty.